Friday 15 December 2017

Lester backing Sheriff side to shackle Hoops

WITH 10 trophies gobbled up in the last two and a half seasons, the players of Sheriff YC know all about the winning habit.

"My ma is getting sick of all the cups and medals, there's no more room for them any more," laughs John Lester, the League of Ireland veteran who is now lining out for the northside club.

That winning record will be given a very stern test tonight when Lester and his Sheriff team-mates head across the city, bound for Tallaght Stadium to take on Shamrock Rovers.

All three non-league clubs left in the FAI Ford Cup have been given tough ties away from home and while Sheriff's trip to Tallaght is not as arduous as the travel involved for Cork side College Corinthians (away to Shelbourne) and Bluebell United (who are 'home' to Derry City in the Brandywell), it is a big ask for the club who have dominated at non-league level in recent seasons.

"We have become used to winning things. Two trophies this season, five last year, three the year before that, so it's a good habit to have," says Lester, a former Everton trainee who lined out for Bohemians, St Pats, Drogheda United and Monaghan United before he dropped into the non-league scene two years ago.

"Of course it's another level, going to Tallaght to try and beat Rovers. The bookies have us as outsiders and on paper, Rovers are expected to win, they have some squad there under Trevor Croly. We are not going there to defend and try to nick a draw, we're going there to win as that's the only way we know how to play.

"We don't play a defensive game, we go out to attack and it would make no sense for us to change our approach just because it's Shamrock Rovers."

Lester has an insight into the Rovers squad from his own time in the League of Ireland, while he played with Hoops stars like Ken Oman and Jason McGuinness (left) in his early days at Bohemians.

Yet he fears that the timing of the game could hurt his side, with Rovers still smarting from last week's league defeat to Bohemians. "Rovers losing to Bohs last week was bad for us as Rovers will be like a wounded animal for this game, they'll be desperate to get back on track," Lester admits.

"With their league form they need to win the FAI Cup to get into Europe so I'd expect them to be even more determined to beat us and then go all the way in the Cup, so that's another factor we have to work against," says Lester.

Sheriff have been weakened over the summer with the loss of players like Anto Murphy (Bohs) and Lee Murphy (Shels) to League of Ireland clubs. "We will miss the lads but we still have a handy squad," says Lester. "We have experience, we have shown we can win games and win trophies. Going to Tallaght is massive challenge – it's a big pitch and that won't help either – but we have a chance."

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