Tuesday 23 January 2018

‘We’re running on empty’ says Hoops manager

MICHAEL O'NEILL admits that his Shamrock Rovers side are "running on empty" after their disastrous run continued with a loss which puts the advantage in the title race firmly back in the hands of reigning champions Bohemians, writes AIDAN FITZMAURICE.

A 17-game unbeaten run earlier in the season is now a distant memory for the Hoops as the long-time league leaders have now lost four of their last five matches, the most recent a dramatic collapse at home to Sporting Fingal on Saturday, and Bohs now know that by winning their final two league games -- against Galway United and Dundalk -- they can retain the league title.

Rovers had gone in front against Fingal early on through Thomas Stewart and could have doubled the lead only for Chris Turner to miss a penalty, but goals in the last few minutes from Fingal's Gary O'Neill and Glen Crowe -- both ex-Bohs players -- means that Bohs, who won 1-0 away to St Pats on the same day, are now a point clear and in the driving seat.

"I have a lot of anger at the moment, anger because I feel for the players," said O'Neill (pictured), who has to now try and raise his troops ahead of their next test, against St Pats in the FAI Cup semi-final on Sunday. "To give 34 games and put themselves in the position they have and now to be in the position where we need someone to do us a favour.

"I'm angry because it is our own doing to be honest. They have been magnificent players to work with and they deserve better than that in one sense for what they bring to the training ground and week in, week out.

"But on the other side of that, the harsh reality of football is that if you make mistakes more often than not you will be punished. People could say we didn't deserve it because of that," added O'Neill, who admits that his squad will be stretched for the Pats game due to injury.

"We are running a little bit on empty, we have the Cup next week, Danny Murphy and Craig Sives are suspended, we have three lads out with cruciates. We're down a lot in personnel and we will have to patch a team together for the semi-final in all honesty.

"There is nothing we can do -- we have the squad that we have. This is the squad that got us to where we are now.

"We need Bohs to drop points, we're in the semi-final of the Cup so there is a huge amount to play for. At this minute in time it feels like your season is over, but the reality is come tomorrow we will have a brighter face and we'll be ready to deal with the semi-final and the final two league games," he added.

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