'That’s the first time I've seen Tallaght like that in 4 or 5 years'

Shamrock Rovers boss Stephen Bradley knows they will need more results like last night’s in order to bring in large attendances every week.

The Rovers players celebrate Michael O'Connor's goal with fans.
The Rovers players celebrate Michael O'Connor's goal with fans.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

THE POOR WEATHER and the fact that RTÉ was televising the game live didn’t deter a crowd of 5,220 from turning out to watch Friday’s Dublin derby between Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians.

On a rain-soaked Friday night, the Hoops prevailed thanks to goals from Brandon Miele and Michael O’Connor, while George Poynton struck late from the penalty spot for the visitors.

Rovers head coach Stephen Bradley was pleased with the manner in which his side went about picking up their first three points of the season, especially in the second half.

It also gave him particular pleasure to see the reception his team got from the fans throughout the 90 minutes and he even went so far as to say it was the best atmosphere he had experienced at that ground since the glory days under Michael O’Neill.

“It’s only one game,” said Bradley, who wants to build on the result. “It’s a big one being a derby but now we have to put a run together. Derry come here next week and you’ve seen the fans so we’ve got to make this a fortress again. That’s the first time I’ve seen it like that in four or five years — since us under Michael.

“If we keep performing and winning games, they will come with us and teams won’t want to come here to play in front of that.”

The club has been attempting to rebuild its relationship with the supporters and it is making a conscious effort to improve the match-day experience in a bid to bring bigger numbers through the turnstiles on a regular basis.

But Bradley is also aware that he needs to deliver on his part of the deal by getting results on the pitch.

“We recognised very early that we’ve lost the connection with our fans,” he added. “The only way to get that back is to work at it. We did that in the off-season when we met them and explained that it’s not just a football team. We’re trying to build a club and that’s very important.

These are the people who are paying the money to watch the games so you have to tell them what’s going on. It’s their club so you have to make them feel part of it. We’re only taking baby steps at the moment but we’re getting there.

“It’s up to me to make sure we win games and they will come back.”

Stephen Bradley celebrates Bradley punches the air at the final whistle. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Reflecting on the game, the Rovers boss said:

“When you consider the pitch, I think we played as well as can be expected on that. I wanted us to show we are a better side than we showed last week and I think we did that in patches.

“The tempo was okay in the first half. We had two chances in their box that we snatched at when we could have finished. I thought we upped it a lot more in the second half and that’s more like our level.

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“Once we did that, we ran over them and got the goals. We could’ve had three or four.

“I thought we had the courage to go and play our game in those conditions, in a big game and after not winning last week.”

Substitutes James Doona and Michael O’Connor made an impact after their introductions in the second half — the latter scoring what proved to be the winner after a counter-attack involving the former.

And Bradley has high hopes for the teenagers.

“I spoke to Mikey when I told him he wasn’t playing. I said to him ‘you’ll get us the winner’. He’s that sort of player that gets into those positions and he should have had two. He was great when he came on.

“The first thing James did was got at his man and had a shot. He’s one of these who has some potential. He can be anything in the next few years — he really can. We just need to keep putting him in at the right times and he will light it up.”

The other Rovers substitute was Roberto Lopes, who came on to face his former club, and Bradley says his omission from the starting line-up had nothing to do with who the opposition was.

“Pico came on sat in midfield and shored it up for us. He’s one of these who just gets on with the job. I wanted to have more attacking players on the pitch as I knew we would have a lot more of the ball. That was the thinking behind it.

“Pico has been brilliant — his mentality, the way he trains, even when I spoke to him about not playing he shuck my hand and was ready to go.”

Defender Danny Devine was judged to have pulled down Stephen Best inside the box in the final minute of normal time for the Bohemians penalty and he can have no issues with the decision, according to Bradley.

“It was a penalty. Danny was silly in the box and held him down.”

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Ben Blake

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