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EA Sports Cup: Rovers look to Ciaran's killer instinct

With four goals in six starts since coming back from injury, striker Ciaran Kilduff can fire Shamrock Rovers past Drogheda United.

Priority: Rovers duo Ciaran Kilduff, left, and Billy Dennehy with the EA Sports Cup.
Priority: Rovers duo Ciaran Kilduff, left, and Billy Dennehy with the EA Sports Cup.
Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

CIARAN KILDUFF’S GOLDEN touch can help Shamrock Rovers find the silver lining in a season to forget.

A dismal few weeks has seen the Hoops all but surrender their Airtricity League title to champions-elect Sligo Rovers, crash out of the FAI Cup, and sack manager Stephen Kenny after less than nine months in the job.

Rovers’ run to the EA Sports Cup final, where they face Drogheda United on Saturday evening, has been the only exception to the doom and gloom around Tallaght Stadium.

Kilduff, who recently signed a new two-year deal, was forced to watch the first five months of Rovers’ spluttering campaign from the stands while he waited impatiently for a broken foot to heal.

But the big striker has come back with a bang, scoring four in six starts including a double when he made his return in a 4-1 win against Limerick FC in the league cup semis.

“I’m dying for it now, especially after the week we’ve had, getting knocked out of the FAI Cup,” Kilduff, 23, told TheScore.ie ahead of the final (kick-off 5.45pm).

“We need a bit of a consolation now and we’ll be all guns blazing for this.

It’s something that I know a lot of the lads have been saying in the dressing room that they haven’t won and you want to put it with the collection if you can.

Unfortunately the way the season went this is the main priority. It’s a must now. We owe it to ourselves and to the club and to the fans.

One of Kilduff’s four goals came in a 2-0 league win against Drogheda, rounding off a hat-trick of wins for the Hoops against Mick Cooke’s men this season.

It’s an encouraging record, Kilduff says, but it won’t count for much in the final.

“We’ve played them and I think we’ve got the edge on them a bit, touch wood.

“But they’re a very good team, they’re second in the league for a reason and they’re not to be taken for granted by any stretch of the imagination.”

One of the last acts of Kenny’s reign was to tie Kilduff down to a new deal which looks set to keep him in Tallaght until the end of 2014.

With former Burnley manager Brian Laws taking temporary charge as director of football until the end of the season, now is a time of great change for Rovers. Amid the comings and goings that will surely follow, Kilduff will still be there.

“I was happy to sign. I’ve been here since I was 15, 16 myself so it was an easy decision for me to make. I’ve got two more years now and I’m happy to be here.

Stephen was someone that I had chatted to a few times but I’d actually never got to work under him. In pre-season I seemed to be playing well under him but when I got injured he kept me positive and kept me going. When I sat down to have the contract talks with him, I was happy to sign for Stephen but I knew obviously that you’re signing for a club not a manager.

This was the third contract I’ve signed for the club so it wasn’t one of those things where I had to be ultra-careful. I knew the club inside out and I know the people around the club so it was easy for me to make that decision.

Laws targets cup win for Kenny

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Niall Kelly

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