| 4.5°C Dublin

We're champs on merit

Bradley won't let Derry row detract from Hoops title win


Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley

Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley

Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley

Shamrock Rovers boss Stephen Bradley says the newly-crowned Premier Division champions will play their postponed fixture against Derry City if ordered to do so by the FAI.

But as his side prepare to receive the league trophy tonight, after a home game against local rivals St Patrick's Athletic, Bradley insists that nothing, not even an asterisk and the potential awarding of a 3-0 win from a game which was not played, can detract from his team's success in landing the title with four games to spare.

"Of course we would want to finish the season but if the league turns around and it's 17 games, it is what it is. It doesn't take anything away from what the players have done," Bradley said.

"There's no asterisk for us. I don't care what anyone says. We won the league on its merits, We've played every team home and away. Don't forget we had Bohs away, Sligo away, Waterford away, three tough games, when the fans were in.

"If we're told to play, we'll play. If we don't and we get the win, it doesn't bother me either way."

Rovers have asked supporters to stay away from Tallaght Stadium tonight as the trophy will be handed over after the game, their final home match of the season where the aim is to go through the campaign unbeaten in the league, something which has only been done twice before, both times by Rovers, the last time in 1925/26.

The final round of league matches is due to take place on Sunday, the only remaining issues over the European places (Dundalk, Waterford, Sligo Rovers, St Pat's and Derry City in contention) and the relegation playoff spot (Finn Harps likely to finish there but Shelbourne, Derry City and St Pat's are not out of danger). But the Shamrock Rovers-Derry City game from last week, unplayed due to a Covid issue in the Derry camp, is a potential headache for the FAI.

The association have, controversially, charged Derry with failing to fulfil the fixture and it's expected, after a hearing at FAI HQ today, that the game will be recorded as a 3-0 win for Rovers. That's on the back of an FAI ruling last week that there could be no more postponements due to Covid, an outcome which would deny Derry a possible European place but which would also put them in danger of relegation.

But Derry have argued strongly that they could not travel to play the game in Dublin as, due to positive Covid tests, the local health authority had instructed the club to 'stand down' the entire squad. Bradley says there's no question of Sunday's games being delayed to deal with a possible Derry appeal but he's open to playing City next week, if that call is made.

"Whatever the league decide, if we have to play the game, we play it," Bradley said. "I don't see Sunday being affected, I see the games going ahead as planned, whether we have to play Derry after that or we don't, that's up to the league."