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Dublin: 11°C Tuesday 18 May 2021

'It was very frustrating but there was nothing I could do'

Stephen Bradley watched from the stands as his Rovers side went top of the league with a 2-0 home win over Derry City.

Rovers boss Stephen Bradley.
Rovers boss Stephen Bradley.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

AFTER A SERIES of sluggish starts to seasons, Shamrock Rovers are top of the league after two rounds, tied with Bohs and Pat’s on six points.

Nobody is getting carried away with themselves yet, but having had a single point at this stage last year, a 100% record thus far is a small victory in itself. 

“It’s vital. It’s vital that we get as many points on the board as quickly as possible. That’s what was what tonight was about” says manager Stephen Bradley. 

“We knew we had started too slowly over the last couple of seasons, we spoke about it and we tweaked some things over pre-season. And we’ve started okay, we’ve got two wins. We’re happy.” 

Those sentiments are echoed by captain Ronan Finn. 

“We really targeted the start of the season as a group, too get points on the board early doors and get some early momentum. We have looked at every game individually, we haven’t looked too far ahead and we are treating everyone with respect. 

“We treated Derry with a lot of respect.

“We weren’t brilliant tonight, but we were efficient and we kept a clean sheet.

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“I think we are carrying on in that regard from last season. Midway through last season we stopped conceding sloppy goals and we became more efficient.” 

Ronan Finn and Jamie McDonagh Rovers' Ronan Finn and Derry's Jamie McDonagh. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Bradley and Finn are speaking in the aftermath of a comfortable 2-0 win at home to Derry City, their first at Tallaght Stadium this season. The crowd clicked to 4,522, many of them watching on from the newly-opened South Stand. 

“I thought the atmosphere was great”, says Bradley. “I think the atmosphere holds a lot more when it is coming from behind the goal, and not being lost going across the pitch.” 

The honour of scoring the first goal in front of the new stand fell to a former Derry City player, Aaron McEneff. When Jamie McDonagh handled Orhan Vojic’s shot, McEneff stepped up and dinked the penalty down the middle. 

Neither manager nor captain were expecting a panenka. 

“No. They practised them yesterday after training – they always do on a Thursday – and he didn’t hit his like that. 

“If it hadn’t gone in he’d be heading back up the motorway with Derry! 

“He’s been brilliant. He scores goals, we know that, but his all-round play has been great. Defensively he has improved. First-half tonight, if you look at his defensive positions, they were really good, and that’s something Aaron hasn’t been renowned for. But we’ve been working on that with him.” 

McEneff’s penalty sealed the game for Rovers in 12 minutes from time, and Finn can see the psychological benefits of stroking a penalty so. 

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“To be fair to Aaron he has tremendous bottle.

“It was a very clever penalty. The keeper, in the final ten minutes, will dive that bit earlier as he really wants to keep his team in the game, so it nullifies that.

“Psychologically I’ve always understood why players do it.”

Bradley last night served the second match of his two-game suspension that hangs over from last year, so watched the game from the stands, occasionally – and largely vainly -shouting instructions to those on the pitch. 

“It was frustrating. Very frustrating. But there was nothing I could do.” 

He is due to return to the sideline for the derby game with Bohemians on Monday night. 

“I might stay in the stand now that we’ve won two out of two. Although I’m not sure Dalymount is the place to do it.”

Rovers play Bohs on Monday night, and then host Dundalk on Friday. If two from two becomes four from four…well then maybe it is time for a couple of people to start getting carried away with themselves.

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About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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