'Players to blame for Rovers failings'
Forthright Finn says place in Europe the minimum requirement
Ronan Finn believes that the Shamrock Rovers players have to take responsibility for the misfiring run that led to another change of manager in Tallaght and the appointment of Pat Fenlon.
The new boss started his tenure with a victory 2-0 over Derry City to enable the Hoops move to within 10 points of leaders Dundalk with 10 matches remaining and Finn was central to the success, with the midfielder breaking the deadlock and creating the other goal for Dean Kelly.
Finn is a survivor from the Rovers squad that reached the Europa League group stages in 2011 and is embarrassed by the subsequent struggles which spelled the end for Stephen Kenny and Trevor Croly and made this year their second on the trot without any European participation.
"My first year was brilliant but, for whatever reason, it hasn't materialised since then," said Finn. "We've let ourselves down. As players, we've got to take responsibility for that. Nobody else. No managers. It's not the fault of anybody; it's the players.
"On the pitch, we let ourselves down and we've got to step up and make sure that, minimum, we qualify for Europe this year. We're at Rovers – the biggest club in the country – and European football is a must every year. The fans expect that and rightly so."
Finn (26) has persistently been linked with a move across the water but for the moment is staying in Tallaght. Fenlon believes he has work to do to improve and confessed that he was about to withdraw the Dubliner before his key contribution on Friday.
"He's a good player and I think there's more in him, we need to get more out of him," said Fenlon.
"He needs to move the ball a little bit quicker and we'll work on that and defensively he needs to learn a little bit more, but the one thing that he has that is very good for a midfielder is a knack for scoring goals and getting into the box at the right time. You don't really teach that to players. They either have that or they haven't got it – and he has it."
Finn is reluctant to talk about the title at this stage. "I think we have to look at ourselves," he said. "But you can't help looking at other results. When teams drop points, we have to capitalise."
Dundalk's draw in Drogheda on Friday gave hope to the chasing pack, but Derry boss Peter Hutton isn't convinced that the Hoops will get into the mix after watching a match where his charges squandered several opportunities to go in front before Rovers struck against the run of play.
"I don't think they'll be getting involved playing like that to be honest," said Hutton bluntly.
"I thought we were comfortable for long spells. They were very direct, very one-dimensional. To be fair, Pat is only in the door. He needs time. It will probably be a bit beyond them. I still think it's Dundalk's to lose.
"The results (on Friday) will make Cork (1-0 winners over St Pat's) feel they've got a chance again but I certainly feel it's Dundalk's to lose."
Fenlon reckons that a couple of Rovers victories could turn heads, while acknowledging that his bow could have gone either way.
"If we can win two or three games on the spin, we'll see what happens ahead of us," he said.
"We have a full week (together) now and then the two games next weekend. So we have a full week to work on some issues and hopefully get a few things across.
"We know we've got things to work on – we probably gave Derry too many chances and we'll work on that."
Fenlon will also utilise the window to search for a new assistant after John Gill confirmed that he would be departing.
Gill, who took caretaker charge after Croly's exit, felt that stepping away was the honourable thing to do considering it was Croly who brought him to Tallaght.
Fenlon has a cross-channel assistant in mind, but is unsure if it's feasible to bring an outsider in for the remainder of this campaign and may have to wait until the beginning of next season before finalising his preferred back-room team.