herald

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Bradley is eager to get a taste of home rule

But LOI facing fixture chaos due to U21 squad

Rovers boss Stephen Bradley believes Tallaght Stadium is the best ground in the Premier Division
Rovers boss Stephen Bradley believes Tallaght Stadium is the best ground in the Premier Division

Stephen Bradley is looking for home comforts from his Shamrock Rovers side tonight as they keep up their chase of league leaders Dundalk.

The vagaries of the fixture list left Rovers with three successive away games recently. The sitaution will now become even more complicated after the FAI confirmed that six games due to be played in the next three weeks have been postponed due to Ireland U21 call-ups for players from UCD and Waterford

Rovers won their last two away clashes, against UCD and Finn Harps, but it's back to Tallaght Stadium tonight as they host a Cork City side who are still in the bottom half of the table.

"We've been away for a few weeks and Tallaght is the best pitch and the best ground in the country. It suits the way we play and we're looking forward to getting back out in front of our fans tonight and playing our football," says Bradley, his side level on points with Dundalk but behind on goal difference.

Rovers won away to Cork earlier this season, when City were on the run which cost John Caulfield his job, but they have been resolute of late under interim boss John Cotter and Bradley is wary.

"It's going to be a difficult game. We know they haven't had a good start, but we have to remember that their team is full of players that have won leagues and cups," he added.

"They're experienced players and they know how to go anywhere in the league and win a game. They'll come to Tallaght with a game plan and we've got to respect that.

"They're a good side with good players and that hasn't changed overnight."

Cotter says his side have had their morale restored after a testing spell. "There's a good atmosphere around the place at the moment, so hopefully we can take that into Friday. We have won three games out of four and kept three clean sheets; the attitude and the character shown by the players has been very pleasing and they have gained confidence from those games," he said.

"First and foremost, it was about getting confidence back, and results help that. I think it is back and, now that it is back, you can start demanding a bit more from players in certain ways, and that is what we will be looking to do going forward."

Meanwhile, the FAI have reacted to those player call-ups by Stephen Kenny for an U21 tournament in France by calling off six games. Two matches due to be played on Friday week (Derry City v UCD and Waterford v Shamrock Rovers) are off, as are UCD v Bohemians (June 8), Cork City v Waterford (June 9), Derry City v Waterford (June 14) and Dundalk v UCD (June 14).

Combined with the mid-season break, that will leave Derry and Cork without a home game for a six-week period while Waterford and UCD both face a fixture backlog with no scheduled league games for five weeks, a serious test of their financial resources.

As they had more than one player called up, UCD and Waterford were able to get postponements, but Bohemians (Darragh Leahy) and St Patrick's Athletic (Jamie Lennon) carry on as they both had just one player called up.

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