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Cup win a message to you, Nutsy

SHAMROCK ROVERS striker Dean Kelly believes that the Hoops players have sent out the right message to incoming manager Pat Fenlon with their clinical dismissal of city rivals Bohemians.

Rovers, who lost manager Trevor Croly (pictured right) on Saturday, expect to appoint Pat Fenlon as their new boss today with a press conference due tomorrow, Fenlon ready to be in the dugout for Friday's league game at home to Derry City. He held further talks with the Hoops board last night and while a deal has not yet been agreed, there are no major obstacles to him taking over at Tallaght.

The former Bohemians and Shelbourne boss was in Dalymount Park on Monday night to see Rovers advance to the final of the EA Sports Cup with a 2-0 win over Bohs, the Hoops players showing a vast improvement from their last league game, a 4-1 loss in Limerick.

And Kelly, one of the scorers against Bohs, feels that the players who had been under fire from unhappy Rovers fans, showed their supporters - and Fenlon - what they are capable of.

"I think have made a real statement about where we are as a group of players," says Kelly.

"He watched the game on Monday night and Pat Fenlon will have seen that there is hunger and desire in this squad. Now it's a matter of him putting his shape on things, how he wants us to play, it's something to look forward to, if he is the one who comes in.

"We were told before Monday's game to concentrate on the match as we didn't know who the new manager would be, but we were told that the new manager could possibly have been at the game, and then we found out after the match that Pat Fenlon had been there to see us.

"We are still in contention for this season. We're in the League Cup final, we're in the next round of the FAI Cup and we can still get into Europe through the league, so there is a lot to be confident about."

Fenlon was a surprise inclusion in the crowd at Dalymount Park on Monday night as he had been due to spend more time on a family holiday in Spain but he returned to Ireland ahead of schedule to hold talks with Rovers, and it's expected that the deal will be sealed today, once final details of the contracts are sorted out.


A lifelong Rovers supporter, Fenlon played for the Hoops for just one season (1996/97) but has a clear idea of what to expect.

And his appointment will win approval from supporters who have been frustrated in recent weeks, with former boss Croly conceding on TV this week that the "rot" set in after the defeat to Dundalk last month, the first of three defeats in four league games.

"It hasn't been easy, especially with so many young players in the team. We had a team meeting once or twice after games to try and keep our heads up. Young players were getting abuse, from both sets of fans in some games, and the senior players tried to have a word with them," Kelly says. "The younger lads were told that you will get stick from opposing fans when you are playing well and there is pressure as well from our own support. If you play for Shamrock Rovers, you are at the biggest club in the country and you just have to take what comes and get on with it.

"I don't want to have a go at our fans, as the Rovers supporters are great, but when you have young players in the team they need confidence, when people are on their backs that won't happen but hopefully that will come now. The fans were great in the Bohs game on Monday and hopefully it'll be like that for the rest of the season," he says.