‘We need to improve our red card count’ - Bradley frustrated after Rovers’ sixth sending off this season

Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley said Graham Burke’s sending off against St Pat’s was “not acceptable” and showed a lack of discipline.

Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley.
Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

WHEN ASKED WHICH area of his side he will be looking to improve on after the mid-season break, Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley said the club’s number of sending offs was a red flag his team must address going forward.

Rovers received their sixth sending off of the campaign in their 1-1 draw with St Patrick’s Athletic last night, meaning the Tallaght club have averaged a red card every three games at the halfway point of the season.

Repeating the fortunes of their opening night fixture against Dundalk earlier this season, midfielder Graham Burke scored for Rovers before receiving a straight red card for a kick on Pat’s midfielder Patrick Cregg.

Liam Buckley’s side had equalized ten minutes after the break through Christy Fagan having gone a goal down when the former Notts County playmaker Burke slipped a finish under Conor O’Malley.

Graham Burke scores a goal Graham Burke gives Shamrock Rovers the lead after 18 minutes against St Patrick's Athletic. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Manager Bradley said he was willing to accept sending offs in the heat of a tackle, however the manner of his side’s latest dismissal left him visibly frustrated, with the incident taking place directly in front of him on the touchline as he was preparing a substitution.

“It was a definite sending off, there’s no other way of saying it”, said the Rovers boss.

“We were just about to take him off actually”, he said of Burke. “We go to take him off and he does that. Like I’ve said I can take someone going in for a tackle and getting sent off because that’s football and it happens, but that there – that’s not acceptable.

“Tackles aren’t a problem for me. Tackles are going to happen over the season and people are going to get sent off for tackles, like Davie’s one”, the Rovers boss said referring to midfielder David McAllister’s sending off in their mid-week fixture against Bray Wanderers.

“I take that because that’s part of football. But we can’t accept that (Burke’s sending off). Swinging out at someone is not acceptable. It’s just a lack of discipline and you let your team-mates down.”

Bradley admitted it was frustrating to lose big players for important games due to persistent suspensions this season.

“Graham is a big player for us, he can score goals. I’m not surprised that he can create and score goals, but he can’t do that.

Graham Burke is sent off by Robert Hennessy Stephen Bradley watches on as Burke is sent off for a kick on Patrick Cregg. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“It’s not acceptable. What he did there tonight is not good enough. You can’t lash out like that. Like I said if he goes in for a tackle and the referee sees it as a sending off, that’s football. But that there – that’s unacceptable.”

With six red cards after 18 games Rovers have received the most sending offs of any club in the Premier Division in 2017, while also receiving the second highest number of yellow cards, with 49.

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Burke has impressed since signing at Tallaght Stadium at the beginning of the season and is the club’s joint-top goalscorer with five.

However he will now miss key games against Finn Harps and Drogheda United following the mid-season break as Rovers attempt to bridge the gap between themselves and Derry City two points ahead in third place.

“If you look at our recent games Graham has been outstanding”, said Bradley. “Tonight certain things did happen and other things didn’t happen for him, it was one of those nights. The disappointing thing for me is that we’ll miss him now for a few games, which is not ideal.

“We have to improve our red card count, that’s not helping us. We have to sit down as a group and go through it and make it right. That’s an area that we’ll have to improve.”

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