Rovers stay true to roots
SHAMROCK Rovers midfielder Stephen O'Donnell has vowed that the Hoops will not forget their roots and ignore their domestic duties as they prepare for their Europa League venture.
Rovers kick off the group phase in Europe next Thursday with a game at home to Rubin Kazan, but before that there's the matter of two league games, at home to Sligo Rovers (tonight) and away to St Pats (Monday), to deal with.
The Hoops have already shown that they're not willing to surrender anything in terms of trophies as they dismantled UCD with a 6-0 win in an FAI Cup replay on Monday, even though an FAI Cup exit would have freed up some time in an already-clogged fixture list for Michael O'Neill's side.
"The games are coming thick and fast but we're not complaining, I suppose you'd call it the price of success," says Hoops midfielder O'Donnell, who has only recently returned to the side after a spell out due to a hamstring injury.
"There's certainly no question of easing off in the league or in the FAI Cup matches because we're in Europe. Some people may have expected UCD to beat us a few days ago because it was said that the FAI Cup wasn't a priority for us, so I think we answered that one with the win.
"We've already won a trophy this season with the Setanta Cup, we're in the last eight of the FAI Cup and we have the league to deal with as well -- all that on top of the Europa League, and we want to win as much as we can.
"A lot of players hadn't won much in their careers before they came to Rovers. We are all hungry to succeed in the game so we want to win as much as we can," added O'Donnell, who says that minds will be very much focused on Sligo this evening, before that tricky cross-city trip to play Pats on Monday.
"We can't just ignore the league because we have the Europa League to deal with.
"It's nice to be in the Europa League group stage. It's a great feeling and something that everyone at the club is looking forward to, but we really want to do well in the Champions League again.
"To make that happen we have to win the league again this season and qualify for the Champions League next season, so we have to work hard for that to come off.
"So this game against Sligo tonight is a massive match for us. It's big for both clubs, but it's a very important game for Sligo especially. I think they'll come to Tallaght going all-out for a win and we'll have to deal with that.
"Sligo have dropped a few points in the last few games in the league. They have a bit of catching up to do and a win away to us would really get them some momentum for the next few matches," added O'Donnell.
"We're up there to be shot at right now because of the European games, people will hope we're ready to slip up so we have to show, as we did against UCD, that we can play and compete on a few fronts.
"And the two league games ahead are massive for the players. Everyone in the squad wants to be in that team for the Rubin game next week so anyone who is picked tonight and again against Pats on Monday will be doing all they can to get wins and points for the team because that's what will really impress the manager when he's picking his team for Rubin."