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Veteran Finn knows Rovers must not be defeatist

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Ronan Finn

Ronan Finn

SPORTSFILE

Ronan Finn

It was Alessandro del Piero and his piece of magic which broke the resistance of the Shamrock Rovers in a Europa League tie ten years ago.

So the Rovers camp can only imagine what another modern-day genius, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, can do when he and his AC Milan team-mates visit Dublin in two weeks' time for a Europa League battle.

Ibrahimovic's stay at Milan for another season was confirmed with a contract extension on Monday, around the same time that Rovers were just about edging past Cork City in an FAI Cup tussle.

But Ronan Finn, a European veteran from his previous spell with Rovers as well as in his time with Sporting Fingal and Dundalk, feels that Rovers will only be beaten in this one-off tie if they go into the game thinking it's already over.

"You can't get away from the fact that they are a massive, massive club. And I think it's going to be a very tough game," says Finn.

"But it's in Tallaght. You are never going to play a game where you think you are not going to win. You are not going to go in with a defeatist attitude. You have to be positive. You have to look at them and go, 'okay, where can we hurt them'.

"We know they are going to be good, we know they are a top side, but if you are going in thinking you are going to lose, you are going to lose. So, when the time comes, we will have to have a game plan that we can go and affect that game. Ultimately, we play football to get a result."

Finn was at Dundalk when they pulled off the biggest European win of the Stephen Kenny era, the defeat of BATE Borisov, and while he knows that the seven-times European champions from Italy are in a different realm, experience tells him that the one-off nature of the tie, and Milan's expectation to win through with ease, can work in their favour.

"It's 90 minutes, it's a one-off game, it's not over two games," Finn added.

"I've played in a lot of European games and I find that in the second leg they are tougher because they know more about you. Maybe when the fixture comes out they see a League of Ireland side and maybe you don't get that bit of respect where in the first leg you can catch them cold a bit. I have found that in my experience, especially playing against the bigger clubs, there could be 30 minutes gone in a game and all of a sudden it's 0-0 and you've a chance. Stay in the game and who knows what happens. You don't give away anything silly or soft in the game," Finn said.

"It's a tie that every neutral would expect Milan to win, experts of the game would expect Milan to win. But you treat the game going: 'right, it's 90 minutes, stay in the game'. That's what we did with Michael O'Neill back in the day.

"We played in big games but if you stay in the game and make life difficult, and don't give away anything cheap, the longer it goes 0-0, who knows? You hit one on the break, you grab one. There are players within our squad who can change the game."