Discipline not an issue for Bradley
Shamrock Rovers boss Stephen Bradley says he has no concerns about his players' ability to keep their heads in tomorrow night's Dublin derby with arch rivals Bohemians.
The Hoops were reduced to 10 men at a key point in last Friday's opening defeat to Dundalk when a wild challenge from Graham Burke resulted in a red card and a scuffle involving players from both teams.
It is always lively when Rovers take on Bohs, but Bradley is confident that his youthful group are capable of controlling their temper even though he wants them to be fired up for their first outing at Tallaght this term. He argues that it's just about getting the balance right.
"A lot was made of Graham's tackle last Friday but there was nothing in the game," said Bradley yesterday. "It was a really competitive game with lots of tackles from players but there was never a nasty moment in the game. Graham had a half second of madness and everyone's talking about discipline
"We have young players that have to keep their heads. You want lads playing on the edge as well and you don't want them going over like Graham did the other night because it kills you. I think it helps lads when they are playing on the edge, it sharpens your mind and gets you ready for these games. If you don't have that edge, you will struggle in these matches."
Winter signing Roberto Lopes will be the focus of attention after his move across the capital from Bohemians, although Bradley feels the level-headed character will be fine regardless of what is shouted from the away end.
The experience of Ronan Finn would help his side's cause with Rovers carefully monitoring a groin problem that restricted him to the role of second-half sub in Dundalk - they benefited from the introduction of their new skipper.
"Obviously you want to start him in every game, but speaking to Ronan coming up to that game, he didn't feel right," explained Bradley. "You can't start a player who mentally doesn't feel like he's there. He came out after the game with no issues with his groin which is important because we were afraid it was going to flare up. He's trained all week so he's getting there.
"He had injections last year and I didn't want to start him off this season giving him injections. I felt that would kill him long term but I knew we'd have to take a hit for a week or two."
Bradley remains content with his team's efforts in Dundalk, even though they ended up with zero points.
He accepts that the performance was below par in parts, but took great heart from the manner in which his team competed physically until the dying stages. In his opinion, that contrasts with recent years.
The young boss has done his homework on Bohs and is refusing to read too much into their opening 4-1 defeat to Derry City.
Rovers upload clips onto a central site that players can access to do their homework and Bradley will show them that the Gypsies actually posed Derry plenty of problems.
"I thought they did well in patches," he argues. "If you look at the score, you'd think they got battered but they didn't. Sometimes it can be misleading so, for the players, you have to clip it and show them. They made some mistakes, but everyone does, so you have to be careful what you show the players."
Meanwhile, Hoops full-back Simon Madden has outlined the influence of Damien Duff behind the scenes.
Madden is also coaching the Rovers U-14 side and Duff has now taken a head coach role with the U-15 group but the former Irish international continues to be a part of Bradley's staff and is on the bench for first team matches.
"He takes some of the sessions," says Madden. "But he is mainly talking to the attackers on our team.
"You can see after every training session, he takes them off for 10 or 15 minutes and you can see from them that they are learning from him, because he was an unbelievable player. It's great for them to have somebody like Duffer to teach the tricks and this and that.
"He has played under Mourinho; he has played under top managers. So his knowledge and everything he says you just take on board.
"Damien has been one of our best ever players. It's some career he's had and the kids can see that too. He's amazing to have around us with the knowledge that he adds."