Saturday 24 March 2018

O'Donnell fears Rovers to rue 'lost opportunity'

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

STEPHEN O'DONNELL has admitted that Shamrock Rovers could live to regret Tuesday's "lost opportunity" against Ekranas.

But the Hoops midfielder reckons that the European experience he and his colleagues have garnered over the past two seasons will aid their bid to progress in Lithuania next week.

The Irish champions missed five gilt-edged chances in the last 10 minutes of their first-leg clash at Tallaght, with Galway native O'Donnell seeing his goalbound effort saved by goalkeeper Emilijus Zubas as Rovers were left ruing their profligacy.

"It's a bit of a lost opportunity," the former Bohemians man admitted. "Looking at the positives, we didn't concede. It's all to play for out there. In the second half we got at them and were able to make chances so we want the same again next Tuesday."

O'Donnell -- the man whose penalty against Partizan Belgrade secured Rovers' place in the Europa League group stages last year -- has struggled to nail down a starting berth under Stephen Kenny. He will hope to come into the team as the manager looks to change things up for the must-win game against Bray Wanderers tomorrow night and stresses the importance of not losing focus on the domestic affairs as they look to bridge the 10-point gap between themselves and leaders Sligo Rovers.

O'Donnell revealed that the players have held a meeting regarding improving their league form, starting with the Seagulls' visit to Dublin 24.

"Obviously everyone wants to be involved in big games -- in every game -- and we've got big games coming up in the league, the FAI Cup and Europe. So everyone will need to be involved," he said. "Europe is a great stage and we got a taste of it last year, playing in the Europa League group stages, and we want more.

"Even if it was a normal league game, we knew that what we were doing recently -- and probably for the whole season -- wasn't good enough for Shamrock Rovers, for the support and the size of the club. We had a meeting about it and we're really trying to focus on having a strong finish."

Irish Independent

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