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Relief as Rovers row finally sorted


Stephen Bradley. Photo: Sportsfile

Stephen Bradley. Photo: Sportsfile

Stephen Bradley. Photo: Sportsfile

As soon as tonight's Premier Division game at home to Cork City is over, Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley will look to attend another match 24 hours later with a trip to the midlands.

That's for the First Division game tomorrow night between Longford Town and Shamrock Rovers II, a game that goes ahead despite doubts as late as yesterday. "Hopefully there's a match," Bradley said yesterday morning.

And there was an early win for Rovers yesterday as a demand by rival clubs that Rovers could only pick players aged between 19 and 21 was knocked back, relief for the new bosses in the FAI that the season can start at last.

"There has been so much talk, but now it's about letting the kids get on the pitch to play and letting them gain the experience which we feel is vital to their development," says Bradley.

"That's what it's about for us. Nothing else other than how can we develop our young players. Nothing else, there is no other agenda."

A statement issued by an alliance of First Division clubs, two days before the start of the First Division season, said they had backed off from their plans to not play in games involving Rovers II.

The FDA claimed they had considered legal action against the Hoops' admission but opted not to as this would "delay significantly the beginning of the League", though one club has floated the idea of asking their fans to boycott games.

Talks on conditions over Rovers II continued as late as yesterday before confirmation by the FDA that boycotts and legal threats were off the table, though they made their point by issuing a graphic which contained the logos of all of the competing clubs in the second tier, apart from Rovers II, calling it "the People's league".

Tonight, Bradley's focus is on the clash with Cork. "We know they are dangerous, we know where they are strong and where they are weak and we'll try exploit that," he said.