SHAMROCK Rovers star Colin Hawkins fears that the Hoops' fringe players may have blown their chance to get into the starting XI after Monday's disaster at home to Derry City.
Rovers are still well placed to retain their league title as they head to Wicklow to face Bray Wanderers this evening, but there's been a fair bit of soul-searching at the club in the last few days, in the aftermath of that 3-0 collapse against Derry in the Setanta Cup semi-final first leg.
Players like Hawkins, Graham Gartland and Sean Gannon have had little chance to shine in the league this season so an appearance against Derry was their chance to show boss Kenny what they're capable of.
But veteran Hawkins admits that he didn't do himself any favours against the Candystripes. "It was a 3-0 defeat at home and it wasn't good enough. Some players missed an opportunity to impress and I'd also include myself in that," Hawkins said ahead of that trip to Bray.
"We just can't concede three goals in the way we did on Monday.
"Stephen Kenny gave players like myself an opportunity in that game to show that we should be in the starting XI every week, and while I can't speak for everyone I will admit that I wasn't good enough against Derry.
"The lads who have played in central defence for most of the league games, Ken Oman and Craig Sives, have done well and given how we played on Monday night, you'd expect them to come straight back in the team for the match tonight.
"The Derry game was very disappointing all round.
"You could say that the referee's decision to send off our keeper after just 13 minutes changed the game, but you can't just use that as an excuse.
"All of Derry's goals were sloppy from our point of view and they were bad goals to give away, we can't explain the defending for those goals by saying that we were down to 10 men," added Hawkins, who moved to Rovers from Dundalk before the start of the season.
The veteran defender, who has won league titles with St Pats, Shelbourne and Bohemians, admits that he now looks at games like last Monday's in a different light as he's no longer just a player but has different responsibilities as part of the coaching staff.
"I think I take a defeat like the Derry one even harder because I am coaching every day and have to think about things more," Hawkins says.
"In training I am trying to help the other players, teach them the right habits and the right way to defend.
"I know that I didn't do that myself in the game on Monday, I was poor for the third goal that Derry scored."
Hawkins has picked up league medals at three of his clubs -- titles eluded him only at Dundalk and Sporting Fingal -- so the Galway native knows all about the pressure that comes from playing for the reigning champions.
"It's very hard when you're the league champions and games like this one tonight, away to Bray, are really tough," he says.
"I've been there before, when you're the champions every team comes at you like it's a Cup final.
"We played Monaghan in Tallaght a few weeks ago, and Monaghan were so fired up for the game, Bray will be the same tonight.
"I know that Rovers had a few tricky games when they played Bray last season and we're going to have to work really hard to get the three points," concluded Hawkins.