Monday 18 February 2019

Bradley accepts boos but defends Bohs cup final claim

Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley. Photo: Sportsfile
Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley. Photo: Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Shamrock Rovers boss Stephen Bradley has admitted that both himself and his players deserved the abuse that came their way after Friday's derby defeat to Bohemians.

However, the under-pressure Rovers manager has dismissed the suggestion that he disrespected Bohemians in the build-up by again referring to the game as the Phibsborough side's 'cup final'.

It's a line that Bradley has consistently used about the showdowns between the arch rivals during his time in Tallaght, and it has been seized upon by the Bohs camp in the aftermath of victories, with Friday's comeback success giving the Gypsies a third successive win over Rovers.

Bohs midfielder Keith Ward quipped on Twitter afterwards that Rovers could take the cost of replacing a corner flag that he damaged during celebrations out of his "cup final bonus".

"It's not trying to be disrespectful," said Bradley, who said that the shoe was on the other foot when he joined Rovers as a player and Bohs - who were then a full-time league winning outfit - were the team to catch.

"We did it here. When Bohs were the better team and we were trying to catch them, it was our cup final. I know the mentality. That is the mentality as a player and as a dressing room. Fortunes have changed over the years and swung both ways."

Rovers do have a superior budget to Bohs and a full-time squad, but a fifth defeat in 11 games has heaped scrutiny on the manager and the character of the dressing room.

They are now in fifth spot and eight behind leaders Dundalk with a game more played. In contrast to the sympathetic reaction after defeat in Louth last week, they were booed off the park following their first home loss of the season.

"Deservedly so," was Bradley's response. "You're 1-0 up at half-time and you get beat 2-1 at home. I'd expect nothing less. The fans have been unbelievable and you can't perform like that, being 1-0 up, and expect them to clap you off the pitch. I deserve everything I get and so do the players.

"You obviously have to respond and we'll find out in the next couple of weeks about that character. I can say what I want but it happens out there. There's no point hiding as we play again Monday. I've no problem getting beat, but you don't get beat like that, as a group, no chance."

Next up for Bradley's side is a trip to Bray tonight and they are possibly landing the Seagulls at a bad time.

With caretaker boss Graham Kelly officially in charge and manager-in-waiting Martin Russell assisting from the dugout, they pushed Dundalk close in a 2-0 loss at the Carlisle Grounds on Friday.

Stephen Kenny's side only nabbed the insurance goal deep in added-time and he described it as their "toughest game of the season".

Former U-19 boss Kelly praised the impact of Russell, who he only met for the first time last Tuesday.

"His experience and his advice is unbelievable. He's a top manager in this league for a long time. He was obviously a top player as well so he has bags of experience that he can bring to this team," he said.

Russell is expected to be confirmed as manager this week, with Kelly laughing when asked if the former UCD and Limerick supremo's presence on the bench suggested he was probably a deserved favourite.

"I think he's in with a good shout," he grinned.

If Bray can force Rovers to drop more points then there will be stern expressions around Tallaght that might pose problems for Bradley.

Elsewhere tonight Waterford can go joint top if they take full points from their trip to Inchicore to take on St Patrick's Athletic.

Dundalk travel to Limerick and Cork play Sligo tomorrow night, with another midweek round of fixtures continuing a hectic spell.

Bohs must try and build on their Tallaght exploits by taking points from Derry at the renovated Brandywell tonight - something that no other club has managed to do thus far.

Manager Keith Long has confirmed that he would like to extend the stay of Friday's star Dylan Watts, who is on loan from Leicester until July.

Irish Independent

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