Fenlon. Dan Sheridan/INPHO
Long-term plan

'I'm hoping people respect what I've done there' - Fenlon insists Rovers are in a better place

The Hoops’ recently-departed manager says a lot of work has gone in to bring young players through over his two-year reign.

PAT FENLON’S TWO-year spell in charge of Shamrock Rovers came to an end earlier this month.

The 47-year-old, a lifelong Hoops fan, was told his contract had been terminated with immediate effect three days after their 2-0 loss to Finnish side RoPS in the Europa League.

One of this season’s main objectives was to challenge champions Dundalk and their nearest rivals Cork City to the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division title, but the Tallaght outfit sat 14 points adrift of the leaders back in fourth when news broke of Fenlon’s exit.

Stephen Bradley has since been appointed in a caretaker role and last Friday night’s 3-1 derby win over Bohemians at Tallaght Stadium has brought a degree of renewed optimism.

Fenlon was a guest on Off The Ball’s League of Ireland slot last night, where he said he wasn’t ready to leave the position although he did understand the club’s decision.

“I’m disappointed I’m not still there but I was honoured to get the chance to manage the club,” Fenlon said. “I grew up following Rovers and that will always be the case. Once you have a club you never change it.

“I had a good two years there and enjoyed it but we move on. I respected the decision of the club but we’ve got to move on. We did some good things there also, but that’s football and that’s the way it goes.

“I’m hoping people respect what I done there. We left behind a lot of good things. People have been speaking over the last week, particularly after the Bohs game, about the young players that are at the club. They didn’t all just appear in the last two weeks.

“We’ve done a lot of work in that regard over a two-year period.”

Sean Boyd 18-year-old Sean Boyd scored on his debut. Donall Farmer / INPHO Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

17-year-old Aaron Dobbs made his first league start against Bohs, while Sean Boyd, 18, came off the bench to replace him and cap his debut with a dream goal.

The pair were two of four members of Rovers’ U19s team who were handed professional contracts last week, and Fenlon spoke about the work he did, along with the other coaches, in attempting to improve the calibre of young players coming through from schoolboy level.

“When I went into the club it was part of my remit to oversee the development of players and coaches and managers from the under 16s to the first team and I think we’ve done that along with Dave Henderson and myself and the other staff, there has been a lot of work done, a lot of recruitment,” he added.

“We brought in Aidan Price and Marc Kenny to run the U17s and the U19s and they have done tremendous jobs there, along with the coaches they have with them.

“Rovers are doing tremendous work at schoolboy level and you probably won’t see the fruition of that for three or four years because their young teams are getting better and better.

“But it meant that there wasn’t an influx of players at the moment from U17s and U19s. It meant there was a lot of hard work going out and meeting a lot of the big schoolboy clubs that have the player.

A lot of the boys that are around the club now have come from those teams. It didn’t happen overnight and it was a lot of work. It is one thing I will walk away from and say there are a lot of good young players there for the future of Shamrock Rovers.

“When I went into the club, it wasn’t just about winning things.  Rovers have a history of winning things and that’s the way it should be but there is also something to build on.

“There is a lot of work done off the pitch and it was about building a club for the future rather than the short-term.”

Listen to the full Off The Ball interview here

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