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Saturday 23 September 2017

Rovers boss Brad' urges men to hit ground running

Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley
Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley

Stephen Bradley has warned his Shamrock Rovers players against adopting a cagey attitude heading into their Europa League decider with Stjarnan.

The Hoops carry a 1-0 lead from Iceland into tonight's second leg at Tallaght Stadium (8.0) and a place in the next round and a showdown with Czech side Mlada Boleslav is within their grasp.

Bradley says that a positive attitude in front of their own crowd is the key to progression.

"We need to make sure we hit the ground running tonight.

"We've done that in most games and we'll need to do that again to get the crowd with us and to make it intimidating for them," said the Rovers manager.

"We need to approach it like we did over there, play our game like we did and try to win it.

"If we approach it any other way we're in trouble."

Experience

The experience of Ronan Finn will be key for Rovers and the heat of European battle is where the Shamrock Rovers man is comfortable.

Finn is a seasoned operator in this type of encounter - this will be his 31st appearance in this sphere - having been part of the Shamrock Rovers (2011) and Dundalk (2016) sides that qualified for the group stages of the Europa League.

The midfielder has started to hit form in his second stint with Rovers following his surprise move last winter, and his performances have been aided by a heat patch that he is wearing during matches which is helping to alleviate the pain from a problem in his lower abdomen.

It's a legacy of the toll on Finn's body during Dundalk's European exploits, but he is desperate to achieve more of the same with Rovers because of the memories that these games create.

"You always get a little high coming into Europe, it's kind of a feeling you get that's hard to replicate all the time because the games are just that bit bigger I suppose," says Finn.

"They shouldn't be I suppose but they potentially are.

"I've stressed to the younger players just how good Europe is, how much of a great distraction it is.

"The pressures of the league will always be there but Europe is an opportunity for the young fellas to show how good they are. There is obviously talk of clubs looking at them (Trevor Clarke is a man in demand) - and there's no better place to go and show your ability than a big European games.

"I didn't play in Europe for a couple of years and I looked on with envy at others. Now that you're here, you don't want to be (in competition) for one round or two rounds, you want to kick on. It's not going to be easy, but we've given ourselves a good chance."

Rovers followed up their European win with a defeat in Sligo, but they were without the suspended Graham Burke for that encounter and Finn believes the footballing prowess of the Belvedere product can be invaluable for this type of test.

"We missed him in Sligo because we needed his guile, his bit of quality to spot a pass," he continued, "Graham is really hard to play against and Europe will bring out the best in him."

Stjarnan trained at Tallaght yesterday and remain confident that they can collect the €225,000 prize book of a Czech date. "We are very optimistic," said their coach Rúnar Páll Sigmundsson. "Our leagues are very similar and it's only half-time. We have great belief we can go through to the next round. Shamrock Rovers are tough and play at a high tempo so we cannot give them so much time on the ball again."

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