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Dublin: 2°C Thursday 15 April 2021

Our back four are pretty much all wingers so it's a makeshift defence but they were outstanding'

Waterford goalscorer Gavan Holohan and Shamrock Rovers boss Stephen Bradley both agreed that a draw was probably the right result.

Holohan was on target for the Blues.
Holohan was on target for the Blues.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

WATERFORD KEPT THEMSELVES within touching distance of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division’s top two with a hard-fought draw at Tallaght Stadium last night.

Alan Reynold’s side sit three points off leaders Cork City — who drew 0-0 with Derry City — and Dundalk are currently two better of than them in second thanks to Pat Hoban’s late winner at home to Sligo Rovers.

The Blues controlled the first half and went in at the break a goal to the good thanks to Gavan Holohan, but Rovers regrouped and were the better team after the interval — Graham Burke bagging the equaliser with 74 minutes played.

Speaking afterwards, Holohan accepted that a point apiece is fair.

“It was a game of two halves, really,” he said. “We dominated for most of the first half and we probably could have gone in 2-0 up.

“It might have been a different game then, but we knew Rovers were going to come out and throw everything at us in the second half, which they did. There were a lot of long throws and long balls into the box.

“They brought two quality players on [Dan Carr and Brandon Miele]. They are clever and picked up little areas, but it’s just that old thing that you’re defending a lead and you start dropping off to try and protect it.

“It’s disappointing from that point of view as we probably should have kept going at them. But listen, there were a lot of tired bodies in there and a lot of lads carrying knocks.

“Before the game, if you had offered us a point we probably would have taken it. If you look at our back four, pretty much all of them are wingers so it’s a makeshift defence but they were outstanding.

Overall, it’s probably a good point.”

The 26-year-old midfielder caught Hoops keeper Tomer Chencinski out with his third goal of the season, and added that he was glad to be back among the goals.

“It just swerved at the last minute and the keeper kind of over-gambled,” he said. “Luckily for me, it went in. I’ll take that all day long.”

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Graham Burke celebrates scoring a goal with Stephen Bradley Bradley congratulates Burke on his goal. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Rovers manager switched formation at half-time as well as introducing Dan Carr and Bradon Miele. The pair were lively, with Carr setting up the goal, so the changes had the desired effect.

“A draw is probably a fair result because they started well and had one or two chances early on,” Bradley said. “But with the chances we created in the second half, you’re a little bit disappointed we didn’t take one of them and get the three points.

“In the first half, we we slow in possession and out of possession and we made it easy for them to play. That hasn’t been like us and, to be fair to the players, they knew it at half-time.

They showed great character to come out and give a tremendous response. I thought they [Carr and Miele] were excellent and I thought the two of them gave us exactly what you want from players coming off the bench. They gave us energy and drive.”

Burke scored his 10th league goal of the season a day after being called up to the Ireland squad for the friendly matches with Celtic, France and the US. Bradley believes it is just reward and says he has spoken to Martin O’Neill. Rovers are due to play Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds a day before Scott Brown’s testimonial at Celtc Park, while they face St Patrick’s Athletic the following Tuesday.

“It’s a great achievement and full-deserved,” he said. £I think he has been the best player in the league this year so far. He’s added goals to his game, and if you’re a player who can create and score, you’re a dangerous player — and that’s what he is right now.

“I think he’s maturing every week and he’ll only get better. This call-up is fantastic for him. I had a good conversation with Martin and we’ll have another one during the week. It was excellent and I obviously told Martin I want him to go and be around the Ireland set-up. Martin wants him to play for us so it was a very easy conversation.

“We have to work out the logistics and the details, but he’ll be fine.”

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Ben Blake

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