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Thursday 16 August 2018

O’Donnell insists Rovers are fully focused on Sligo

STEPHEN O’DONNELL believes that Shamrock Rovers can shake off last week’s Europa League disappointment and make more progress in the FAI Cup tonight.

Michael O’Neill’s men spent the weekend analysing their 3-0 defeat to Rubin Kazan in the opening game of the Europa League group stages and then getting their minds focused on the next challenge, that Cup quarter-final tie away to Sligo.

With Bohemians and Dundalk needing a replay tomorrow following Friday’s 0-0 draw and the Shelbourne-Limerick tie not due to be played until next month, only St Patrick’s Athletic have so far secured themselves a place in the last four thanks to their superb win away to Cork City.

It’s a bruising schedule for the Hoops, as tonight will be their 46th competitive game of the season, but\[Daniella Matar\] midfielder O’Donnell promises that Rovers are heading to Sligo fully focused on the task of winning as many trophies as possible as they have set aside their European ambitions until that mouth-watering trip to play Spurs on Thursday week.

“This is a massive game for us now, games like this are our bread and butter,” says O’Donnell. “We have a very busy schedule ahead, Sligo tonight and then Bray on Sunday, before we play Tottenham in Europe next week, so we’re treating each game |seriously.”

The midfielder was a hero for Rovers with his penalty away to Partizan Belgrade in the Europa League play-off round, but his good fortune from spot kicks didn’t follow him into the group phase as he missed a penalty against Rubin last week.

“I can’t dwell on the penalty miss. Bigger players than me have missed penalties in bigger matches. If you live by the sword you die by the sword, you get all the acclaim when you score a penalty so you have to take the flak when you miss them. It’s a lonely feeling when you walk away having missed a penalty,” O’Donnell admits.

“It was a poor penalty from me the other night, I tried going down the middle like I did against Dundalk but it didn’t come off. It would have been a lot worse if the game had hinged on that, if we’d been beaten 1-0 and I’d missed a penalty. I think we’d still have lost even if I had scored.”

Sligo welcome ‘Shams’, as the western club insist on calling the Dublin outfit, to the Showgrounds with a real urge to come out on top and retain the FAI Cup which was won against Rovers last season.

The Hoops are definitely without Dean Kelly and Ken Oman (injury) as well as Karl Moore (cup-tied) and Pat Flynn (suspended), while there are doubts over Gary Twigg and Ronan Finn. Sligo’s only absentee is the suspended Danny Ventre.

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