Hoops are hungry
Brennan says Rovers yet to kick into gear despite perfect start to season
Three wins and three clean sheets from their opening three games of the season is a sign that Shamrock Rovers mean business this year.
And Hoops midfielder Gavin Brennan, who is filling in at left back at the moment, says the side's good start to 2016 is driven by the hunger within the squad to avoid a repeat of last season.
Rovers have brushed past Sligo Rovers, Wexford Youths and Finn Harps in the opening exchanges of the season but tonight they face the first real challenge of the campaign as they welcome St Patrick's Athletic to Tallaght Stadium.
With respect to all three sides, and giving credit to Wexford for the fight they put up in Tallaght seven days ago, those games were all battles Rovers were expected to win, but Dublin derbies are different: keeping Christy Fagan quiet tonight would be a start but this is a sterner test.
"I think there is more hunger there this year," Brennan told The Herald when asked to explain the side's bright start.
"We had too many silly draws last season, if we'd turned even three of those draws into wins we'd have been a lot more competitive. The hunger to win things is stronger now than it was this time last year. I know the size of this club, the fans and the board expect success, expect trophies and for everyone at Shamrock Rovers, we have to make sure we're not so far off the pace this time around.
"It's been a while since this club won a big trophy, the fans want silverware but so do the players, hopefully we can change that this year."
Rovers finished 13 points behind eventual champions Dundalk and for Drogheda native Brennan, the sight of Dundalk streaking so far ahead was hard to take.
"To see them go so far ahead of us, that hurt, watching them go out of sight in terms of the table," Brennan says.
"You watch the highlights on TV on a Monday night, see Dundalk scoring all those goals and winning all those games and you wonder why we're not doing it.
"This year we have to focus more on ourselves, do our own job, win our own games, and we have certainly started off well," added Brennan, proud of that record of 270 minutes of league football without conceding a goal. We defend from the front, having Gary Shaw up there helps as he holds the ball up really well and if he's holding the ball up at the other end, the opposition can't hurt us.
"We're strong as a group and I think that time away in India in pre-season helped us bond as a group."
An injury to Luke Byrne has forced Fenlon to find another left back but Brennan has filled in ably.
"I played there before for Drogheda, you get a lot of time on the ball so it suits me, once I am playing I don't care what position I am in," says Gavin whose brother, Killian, moved to Rovers from St Pats in the off-season, though injury rules Killan out of tonight's game.
Killian has been involved, though, and used the knowledge gained from his three seasons with the Saints to prepare for tonight, though no one needs to be told that Christy Fagan (three goals in three games) is in form and is a threat.
"We know what Christy is all about and we did a few drills in training yesterday to deal with him, hopefully we can keep him quiet all night," says Gavin.
"Killian spoke at the team meeting yesterday about how Pats will play, Liam Buckley has had them set up a certain way for the last while so we will be well-prepared for them."
Both Dundalk and Rovers have enjoyed a 100% start to the new season but both clubs face a bg test tonight, Rovers at home to Pats and Dundalk at home to Cork City. For Brennan, the start to the season has been only average and he expects more.
"We haven't kicked into gear yet, yet we have still won three from three, so it's a good sign if you can win while not playing to your best," he says.
"I don't think we have played well yet, we haven't been all that pretty to watch for the fans, but once we get into the season and get into our stride, I think you will see a lot better from us in terms of performances."