Wednesday 13 December 2017

Belgrade hero Sullivan can help Rovers hit stride

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

SHAMROCK ROVERS' bid for another season in the sun resumes 24 hours earlier than expected at Tolka Park tonight as Westlife become the latest obstacle in the way of Stephen Kenny's charges.

The League of Ireland received the sharpest reminder possible of its place in the world this week with the demise of Monaghan United and, having taken a break to avoid playing second fiddle to Euro 2012 in recent weeks, the action returns a day early due to the concert taking place at Croke Park tomorrow. Shelbourne were advised by the gardai to move the match forward 24 hours to avoid traffic chaos.

Rovers lost 2-1 in a friendly with Swedish side Malmo last weekend and, with Europe coming into view, they know the importance of finally hitting their stride this season. The Hoops lie eight points behind leaders Sligo Rovers, who don't play this weekend as a result of Monaghan's withdrawal.

The whole team will have been lifted by the return of Belgrade hero Pat Sullivan. Defensive solidity has been an issue and right-back Kerrea Gilbert has been exposed at times, while the leadership that the 29-year-old Sullivan will bring will be key to their charge.

It should be an entertaining return for a league in the headlines for all the wrong reasons and Shelbourne will be hoping to add to the Hoops problems.

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