Sunday 24 February 2019

Rovers prepare for life without burke

Ireland forward Graham bids farewell to Hoops ahead of Preston move

ROVER AND OUT: Graham Burke will depart Shamrock Rovers after tonight’s game in Limerick. Pic: Sportsfile
ROVER AND OUT: Graham Burke will depart Shamrock Rovers after tonight’s game in Limerick. Pic: Sportsfile

The fee pocketed for his services will ease the pain for Shamrock Rovers of Graham Burke's departure.

And as the Hoops prepare for life without Burke - he makes his final appearance in the green and white shirt away to strugglers Limerick tonight - Rovers feel that the 24-year-old can go on to great things, albeit on foreign fields.

Burke has agreed a move to Preston and will wave goodbye to the Rovers players and fans at the final whistle at the Markets Field this evening, the former Aston Villa man going on holiday before heading into pre-season with Preston.

Rovers are believed to have pocketed €300,000 up front for Burke, with more cash to come based on his progress and success, and some of that money will be used to beef up the squad.

Keeper Alan Mannus has already been re-signed and will be eligible from next month while boss Stephen Bradley will tinker with the squad, cover up front needed as Dan Carr cannot be expected to carry the burden of scoring goals on his own, though Rovers are boosted by the fact that forward Sean Boyd is now fit after a long lay-off.

Boss Stephen Bradley plans for the future. Pic: Sportsfile
Boss Stephen Bradley plans for the future. Pic: Sportsfile

Replacing Burke will not be easy but Bradley is delighted with how he has done for the Hoops.

"I think he came to us a little bit broken but he's matured both on and off the pitch," says Bradley of the player signed from Notts County.

"Obviously he has the ability but it's his personality as well, his drive to be the best he can be. He's put in a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes that people don't see, he's been excellent.

"It's been an unbelievable journey so far for him and long may it continue.

"I've no doubt that Graham is the type of player who will go over there and shine. The higher the level he plays the better Graham will be," added Bradley.

"His team-mates liked him for what he did on the pitch, for scoring goals, but more than that, it was around training. He does the right things and the icing on the cake was that he produced it on a Friday night.

"He's a top player and a top person. Obviously they'll all be sad to see him go, we all will, but it was great to have him for the time that we did."

Rovers have sold six players to English clubs in the last 15 years, two of them (Noel Hunt and Enda Stevens) going on to win senior caps, though Burke of course already has senior international experience on his CV.

With Burke on his way, the challeng for Rovers is to build on last week's 5-0 dismissal of Bray Wanderers, get another win away to Limerick tonight and close the three-point gap between themselves and fourth-placed Derry City.

Also tonight, Dundalk head back to Derry for the second time in a month, keen to sustain their winning run. "We are getting into good habits now. We are playing good football and we are into a good rhythm of winning matches. We have won seven on the bounce in the league and that is what we wanted," says defender Sean Hoare, named as the player of the month by the SSE Airtricity Soccer Writers Association of Ireland. "We just keep doing what we are doing and see where it takes us."

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