herald

Saturday 21 October 2017

Champions!

O'Neill and his men can't wait to face Europe's best in Champions League

BRING on the Champions League - that was the cry from Shamrock Rovers today as the Dublin club celebrated their first league title in 16 years.

A 2-2 draw away to Bray Wanderers last night -- and the fact that Bohemians could only win by two clear goals at home to Dundalk -- was enough to see Rovers finish the season on top of the table, on goal difference ahead of Bohs.

That qualifies Rovers to play in the Champions League for the first time since the competition was revamped -- Rovers' last time to play in the old European Cup was back in 1987 -- and boss Michael O'Neill can't wait to test his side against Europe's best.

"The Champions League, that's something we will look forward to," he said as he celebrated last night's title win in Bray. "We had a good experience in the Europa League this season, we're not a million miles away and we will add to the club -- within a realistic structure.

"Every club has to chase the dream but they have to chase it sensibly," added O'Neill, who stressed that his side will not repeat the mistakes of recent champions like Shelbourne, Cork City, Drogheda United and Bohemians who all ended up in a disastrous financial position.

"That won't happen here. The club is managed very prudently, when I took the job I knew that and it was one of the things that attracted me to the job.

"And I think it is sweeter because this is a fans' club, this club is a model for others to copy. It's not as easy as it seems, this takes a lot of hard work behind the scenes."

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