Wednesday 24 January 2018

Chambers eager to live double dream

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

JAMES CHAMBERS' first FAI Cup memory is watching Tony Sheridan's sublime Lansdowne Road strike which brought the 1996 showpiece to a replay that ended with victory for Shelbourne.

"I think everyone remembers that," he smiled.

On Sunday, the Shamrock Rovers midfielder will get his first taste of the renovated venue and bids to make his own contribution to the competition's storied history. And he's certainly capable of producing the odd moment of magic. The Dubliner has shone in his first season with the Hoops, with a few goals from distance to add to consistent displays in both the centre and on the right side of midfield.

And yet, he's unsure if he will get the nod in Michael O'Neill's starting XI -- evidence of the squad depth which played a significant role in their title success.

Naturally, the 23-year-old is desperate to be involved, keen to prove that the Hoops are an attractive side to watch -- with this weekend's opponents, Sligo Rovers, earning all the plaudits for their expansive style of play.

"I feel that we've played some decent football and I think people haven't given us credit for it when we have," he said.

"People have thrown bouquets at the likes of Sligo, which is well deserved, or Fingal and teams like that, but we've played good football at times during the year and, we're champions and there on merit.

"Sligo are a very good side, though, and every time we've played them it has been nip and tuck. They've got very good players and they'll be prepared for Sunday but we know what to expect."

A double win would place this crop of players onto a different stratosphere, however, and it's a message which is being drummed home to the younger members of the dressing-room, like Chambers.

"The senior boys like Dessie (Baker) have said it, that it doesn't come around that often so when you get a chance, you take it. Don't let it pass you by."

Chambers arrived at Shelbourne as a kid when Baker was a star turn, and enjoyed a long association with the club, coming through the ranks along with pal Gary Deegan, who is now with Coventry.

He was too young to figure when Pat Fenlon was in charge, and spent time on loan with Waterford before gaining first-team experience following Shels' demotion. Then came a switch to Drogheda, where his performances in 2009 earned the move to Tallaght over the winter, irking his ex-boss Alan Mathews.

"I've a league medal in my pocket now and if I had stayed at Drogheda, I don't know what would have happened," he said.

"You can't turn down Shamrock Rovers. They are a massive club."

While he denies there was interest from Scotland last winter, Chambers is an emerging talent who is bound to attract interest from across the water if he continues his current rate of progress.

For now, however, Sunday is all that matters.

Irish Independent

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