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Oman: We've hit new heights

A GOOD TEAM can win a league title but only a great team can retain it - that's the view of Shamrock Rovers defender Ken Oman

The Finglas man wasn't at Rovers when they won the league title last season but he was a vital figure in the Hoops squad of 2011, emerging from a three-month injury lay-off to score a vital goal in Tuesday's 2-1 win away to UCD, a win which secured Rovers a second successive title with a game to spare in the season.

"Retaining the league title is the hardest thing to do in football so I think the fact that we have done it says a lot about this team and our character," he says.

"This has been a remarkable season for Rovers. Given what we have done in Europe I think it's been the best season ever for an Irish club and to top it all off with winning the league again is brilliant.

"If you look back over the history, very few teams have been able to go out and win the league again after winning it the first year because it's such a hard thing to do, so I feel that this is a brilliant achievement for us.

"Tuesday night was brilliant for me because I'd been out for so long with the injury," added Oman, who was playing in his first league game since July.

"I got injured in the Champions League game in Copenhagen.

"I was told I'd be out for three months but I was desperate to get back and I was back within two months.

"Sitting around and watching the team play was a nightmare for me, I just wanted to get out there on the pitch.

"I had worked very hard in training over the last two weeks or so and then last week in the game away to PAOK the manager said he'd give me a chance."

Oman didn't start Tuesday's game away to UCD but a sending-off early in the second half for defender Craig Sives forced Rovers to make a change, so Oman was sent on in place of striker Ciaran Kilduff.

His brief was to shore things up at the back but then Oman popped up on 68 minutes to head home from Gary McCabe's cross, only his second goal of the season.

"I just wanted to feel part of it, so to play a big role on the night and score the goal was amazing," Oman added.

"I'm glad we have the league out of the way so we can enjoy tomorrow's game with Galway because that could have been a real banana skin for us.

"I know people will look at Galway's record [28 defeats in the last 29 games] and think the game was there for us to win if we just turned up, but football isn't that simple and Galway could have done something against us, so I am happy to have it sorted."

Rovers have a busy few days ahead, with the trophy presentation after the Galway game tomorrow and then a clash at home to PAOK in the Europa League next Thursday, but work also has to be done off the field in terms of player contracts.

Oman, 29, is one of the players out of contract, but he's hoping to extend his stay.

"We have more or less sorted out a new contract, I have really enjoyed my time here and I'd love to stay on," he added.