Wednesday 18 September 2019

Bradley pleased by Bolger's 'nasty' streak as teenager proves worth

Aaron Bolger. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Aaron Bolger. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Stephen Bradley believes that teenage talent Aaron Bolger has all the attributes to move towards becoming the complete midfielder.

And he feels that the Leaving Cert student's ability to be a "nasty little f****r" on the pitch is a key part of his make-up.

The 18-year-old excelled in Rovers' 3-0 win over Cork City on Monday night when he competed well in the midfield department against the experienced Conor McCormack, Gearoid Morrissey and Garry Buckley.

Bolger is a pint-sized player with technical ability who also has a combative streak that was evident in a collision with McCormack.

His manager was suitably impressed, with Bradley claiming: "Aaron was unbelievable - he played like he had 400 games under his belt."

"He's playing against three players who have won leagues that are obviously a lot older and have a lot more experience. He was probably the best midfielder on the pitch.

"His decision-making on when to quicken the game up and when to slow it down is well beyond his years. He was different class.

"He's a nasty little f****r and he can do a bit of everything," continued Bradley, discussing the youngster's fondness for getting stuck in.

"He can tackle, he can play and he just needs to add goals to his game and he would be very close to a complete midfielder.

"When you're deep, you have to have something about you (combative streak).

"You have to be able to put your foot in because there are times when you're going to be the last defender. He has that in him, he doesn't need to be taught that."

Bolger, who was formerly with St Joseph's Boys, is studying for his Leaving Cert at Ashfield College in Dundrum - the private secondary school with which Rovers have a relationship.

It allows him to train full-time in the morning and then catch up with classes in the afternoon.

Bradley thinks it will be hard to encourage the player to miss some Rovers work when exam time dawns.

"You try and tell him to stay away from here," he smiled.

"It would be interesting. We will obviously work around it. But trying to tell Aaron to stay away from training or a game. He would have been in school today (Monday), and would have been in school before other games but there's no complaints.

"He shows up at 5.0 and is in his shorts. 'Why are you early?' 'I'm always early, I'm ready to play.' That's what you're dealing with.

"It's that short and that blunt - he just wants to play. He doesn't look at Morrissey or Buckley or McCormack with any sort of fear. He honestly believes he is the best midfielder on the pitch and that's what will drive him. Every level he goes up, he'll respond to it."

The Cork win lifted the pressure off Bradley, and he was happy for goalkeeper Kevin Horgan who excelled after coming in for strong criticism during Rovers' win-less run.

"A lot of people have looked for an easy target; a young boy in goal, let's jump on it but he's shown unbelievable character."

Irish Independent

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