Shamrock Rovers' matchwinner would 'certainly not' look out of place in Ireland squad

Danny Mandroiu scored his 11th and 12th goals of the season on Friday.

Shamrock Rovers' Daniel Mandroiu celebrates scoring against Finn Harps.
Shamrock Rovers' Daniel Mandroiu celebrates scoring against Finn Harps.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

NOT FOR the first time this season, Danny Mandroiu was key as Shamrock Rovers beat Finn Harps to clinch the Premier Division title on Friday.

The attacker scored a first-half brace to put his side firmly in control of the contest in front of 7,030 fans at Tallaght Stadium in the first game there since restrictions have been fully lifted.

Substitute Aidomo Emakhu scored a last-gasp third goal to seal the victory, but there was no doubting that Mandroiu was the star man on the night.

The 23-year-old Dubliner earned a first Ireland call-up last May, but he has not been named in subsequent squads and has yet to make his debut for Stephen Kenny’s side.

However, team-mate Ronan Finn believes he is more than capable of making an impact at international level.

Asked whether the man they signed from Bohemians ahead of the 2021 season would look out of place in the Ireland squad, Finn replied: “Certainly not. You look at his talent. You look at his technical ability. And you look at his work rate. You don’t come into this Shamrock Rovers team if you don’t work, you don’t last if you don’t work and Danny works as hard as anyone.

“I wouldn’t say Danny has got stronger [this season], he’s just been brilliant. A fantastic footballer, someone that’s fitted into the group. Work ethic — brilliant. Buys into the concept of the manager. Brilliant recruitment from the manager.”

Rovers stalwart Finn had been a doubt for Friday’s game and was kept on the bench for its duration, allowing him to sit back and soak up the buoyant atmosphere as the Hoops were confirmed as the domestic champions for the 19th time in their history.

“You felt the atmosphere. Around the communities in Tallaght, around the Rovers supporters clubs throughout Dublin, Ireland. You see the crowd tonight, it was made for it. Last year, for us as players, it was disappointing. There was just no crowd. Football without fans is nothing. To win it last year, of course, as a player, that’s what you want, but you want to do it in a situation like this, a full house in Tallaght, playing really good football, people are going home happy.

“I think the group has a great mix of youth and experience. The manager, his recruitment has been unbelievable the last few years. But when you’re on top, you’ve got to go again. So I’m sure, over the off-season, we won’t be resting on our laurels. We’ll be looking to strengthen again in certain areas and looking to kick on.”

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Finn was also part of the squad the last time Rovers secured a second successive title, in 2011, when Michael O’Neill was in charge.

“Michael’s group, very strong, we were physical, very difficult to beat. Maybe this team is a little bit more expansive. Whatever way you want to tie it up, it doesn’t matter. It shows your strength. We won it with Michael with a game to spare. So again, winning it with games to spare shows we’ve got a bit of strength in depth, a good squad. But listen, you’re there to be shot at next season, we know that.”

The 33-year-old also played down any suggestion that the Hoops had proved a point, after some criticism — notably from Dundalk’s Pat Hoban — when they triumphed amid a shortened 18-match campaign in 2020.

“No, listen, people can talk. Whoever said what, for me, it doesn’t matter, I’ve got another league medal. There was no asterisk last year, there was none this year. We were the best team last year and we’re the best team this year.”

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Paul Fennessy

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