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'I don’t respect the person it came from' - Rovers boss Bradley responds to Soccer Republic criticism

The Hoops boss has been speaking ahead of tonight’s league meeting with Bohemians.

Hoops manager Stephen Bradley.
Hoops manager Stephen Bradley.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

IT’S A BIG night at Tallaght Stadium as Shamrock Rovers entertain Dublin rivals Bohemians (8pm).

A 2-1 defeat to Dundalk last Friday saw the Hoops lose ground on the Premier Division’s top three, after goalkeeper Kevin Horgan allowed a scuffed cross from Chris Shields to roll over the line.

Speaking on Monday night’s episode Soccer Republic, RTÉ pundit Alan Cawley branded the club’s goalkeeping situation “a shambles”, adding that it could ultimately cost manager Stephen Bradley his job.

However, the Rovers boss has responded to those comments.

“I didn’t see it, I don’t watch it,” Bradley said yesterday. “I’ve obviously heard about it, a few people said it to me. You can’t let things get on top of you, what people say.

“You have to respect their opinion for you to take it on board. I don’t respect the person it came from, I don’t respect their opinion, so it doesn’t interest or bother me.”

Bradley has used both 20-year-old Horgan and Canadian stopper Tomer Chencinski between the posts this season, but when asked if his goalkeepers are an issue, he replied:

As a team we’ve conceded poor goals. I’m not going to sit here and talk about individual players. As a team, we win and lose together. That was the case on Friday.

“Should we have got something out of the game? Yeah, 100%. We didn’t, and we have to look at why we didn’t. That’s attacking as well, why we didn’t take more chances of the ones we created and, defensively, yeah, we’ve conceded poor goals against Waterford and Dundalk but that’s as a team.

“It can be stopped all over the pitch, not just when it goes into the net. There are areas all over the pitch, they were soft goals.”

One Rovers player who is bang in form heading into the game is Graham Burke. Six goals in March (he’s the league’s top scorer with seven in total this season) saw the forward named SSE Airtricity League/Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland Player of the Month yesterday.

“He’s deserved it, hasn’t he,” said Bradley of the ex-Aston Villa youth player. “His ability is as good as anything we have seen in the league. Graham just needed to settle. He was getting sent off and he was getting frustrated. He is a lot more mature now, he has settled down in his game and now he is adding goals.

“It’s great that he is adding that to his all-round game because he is a nightmare to play against.”

SSE Airtricity/SWAI Player of the Month March Burke after winning SSE Airtricity League/SWAI Player of the Month for March. Source: Sam Barnes/SPORTSFILE

Having made a name for himself in the Next Gen tournament for winners Aston Villa, Dubliner Burke wound up at Notts County before returning home to join Rovers at the beginning of last season.

Bradley had first come across the youngster during five-a-side matches they both played in at the Spawell. During the summers, agent and former Shamrock Rovers striker Graham Barrett would bring together then English-based players such as Burke, Jack Byrne, Eoghan Stokes and Mikey Drennan for a kickabout.

In his first year at Rovers, Burke showed flashes of brilliance along with a couple of foolish moments, which earned him red cards. Now, the 24-year-old is beginning to fulfill his supreme potential.

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“I think he went from top goalscorer in the Next Gen to being a bad player, it doesn’t happen,” adds Bradley. “So there is something in between that has made him lose confidence. For me, it was just him believing what he was because he has been shipped left and right and played in a league that was long ball.

Last year, we saw glimpses of it along with the bit of madness that he had. When you broke it down, and showed him the games he missed he couldn’t believe it.

“He’s disciplined now and he’s just believing that he’s a good player. I think that he will only get stronger, and physically he’s getting better. You look at him now, he might look slight on the pitch but he’s a strong, strong fella. He’s in unbelievable shape.

“We had him on a programme, that’s something he had never done until he came home. People might think that he’s been at professional clubs but it doesn’t happen because you’re just a number. You go through the system and move on if you’re not ready.

“Here, he’s one of our top players and it’s our job to make sure he’s right in all aspects and one of them was the physical side. He’s bought into it and now when you see players play against him they respect him and stand off him because they feel how strong he is up close. He wants to feel you so he can twist and turn you.

“I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him, it will be another 12 months before you see that potential that you’re talking about.”

Graham Burke with Darragh Leahy Burke and Darragh Leahy of Bohemians back in February. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

Trevor Clarke’s operation on his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) was a success this week, and although no timeframe has been set for his return, Bradley spoke positively about the possibility of him returning before the end of the season.

“It was really good,actually,” he said. “The surgeon was really surprised when he went in. Half of his ACL was still in tact, which was a big bonus, and there was no structural damage whatsoever. So it could be a quick turnaround for him.

Touch wood, the rehab has to go well, but considering the feedback from the surgeon we’d be hoping to have him back [this year].”

Very little football was played at Dalymount Park when Rovers lost out 3-1 to tonight’s opponents Bohs in the first league fixture of the year, and when asked what lessons can be taken from that game, Bradley answered:

“Just respect the game, respect what it is. Respect Bohs, respect that they’re going to fight.

“They’ve been playing well, to be fair. So whether we’re 1-0 up, 1-0 down, 2-0 up, respect that you’re in a game for 90 minutes. If we do that and play to our levels we’ll be fine but we need to respect the game.

“I felt it was a terrible game over there but we were in control. I felt we were really comfortable. For 10 minutes, we didn’t respect what it had been and we got punished.”

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