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'No injections. When the physio comes on, Joey rolls it back in and gets on with it. It just shows what he is made of'

Joey O’Brien’s dislocated shoulder sums up the mentality shift at Shamrock Rovers, says Stephen Bradley.

Shamrock Rovers' defender Joey O'Brien.
Shamrock Rovers' defender Joey O'Brien.
Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

RESILIENCE HAS BEEN the cornerstone of Shamrock Rovers’ early title charge and nobody sums up that dramatic shift in spirit from previous years more than Joey O’Brien.

It’s not just the former Republic of Ireland’s organisational skills that have been of such value, although they have certainly helped a defence that has kept seven clean sheets in 12 league games and conceded just five times this season.

It’s not even the former Republic of Ireland international’s vast experience, which head coach Stephen Bradley credits for bringing a calmness to the rest of the squad, that perfectly illustrates his effect.

It’s something far more rudimentary.

“He has played the last four weeks with a dislocated shoulder,” Bradley revealed after Friday’s 1-0 win over Derry City extended Rovers’ lead at the top of the table to eight points.

“He shouldn’t be playing really, but he wants to play through it, so he straps it up and he gets on with it. It just shows the character of the man.”

Ronan Finn and Joey O'Brien celebrate winning O'Brien has played with a dislocated shoulder for the past month. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

The 33-year-old right back suffered the injury away to Finn Harps on 22 March and, rather than undergo an operation, has opted to manage his way through the pain, even having the left shoulder put back into place during Friday’s win after he landed awkwardly following a tackle.

“No injections,” Bradley insisted. “It popped out again on him when he fell. When the physio comes on, he rolls it back in and Joey gets on with it. It just shows what he is made of, it shows his character. He has been a real leader for us.

“Look, when it happened, we left it to Joey: ‘it’s your decision here, if you want to get the operation, get the operation’.

Obviously, we wanted him to play, but it’s his decision, he has been around a long time and his decision was, ‘I’m playing, that’s it’. Every week we ask him if he’s playing and he just gets on with it.

He had one on his right [shoulder] years ago with West Ham and he got it operated on, so he knows the pain, he knows it’s going to roll out on him playing games. But he is getting through it.

“A lot of people would step out and say, ‘no, I’m not right’. But Joey has gotten on with it and he has been brilliant for us.”

Those qualities will be needed in abundance for tomorrow’s Dublin derby with Bohemians, a clash that now has even greater significance as they are currently the top two teams in the country.

Bohs have won on their last three league visits to Tallaght Stadium and were 1-0 winners at Dalymount Park earlier in the campaign, the only blot on Rovers’ near perfect copy book.

Another victory tomorrow would close the gap to five points and with a game in hand to come, the runaway Rovers train might just be stopped in its tracks.

Joey O'Brien The 33-year-old made five international appearances for Ireland between 2006 and 2012. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“I think it’s going to be our toughest game at home this year. I watched their game against Dundalk on the way up [to Derry] on the bus and I thought they were brilliant.

“They deserved to win. They are playing with confidence and it’s going to be a really tough game.

“But I think we have gotten stronger and stronger, and I think we are ready for Tuesday,” Bradley added, before quickly deflecting talk of how the club hadn’t won eight leagues in a row since 1987 before triumphing in Derry.

It’s brilliant. I didn’t know that until someone said it after the game. It’s great, but we just need to keep focused until Tuesday.

“The results haven’t been good for us against Bohs and we need to try and put that right on Tuesday. We know it’s going to be a tough game but I believe we are ready and I believe we are a different team.”

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David Sneyd

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