Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley believes the small margins are currently going against his side, with the four-in-a-row chasers 10 points off the top and winless after the opening six games.
Friday night’s 2-2 draw against St Patrick’s Athletic was the third time in six games where Bradley watched his side surrender their lead late on, as Jake Mulraney’s fine 25-yard strike cancelled out Jack Byrne’s wonder goal to rescue a much-needed point for the Saints.
Despite sitting in eighth entering the international break, the Hoops boss made clear he prioritises performances over results and insists he won’t be abandoning the approach which has seen them lift three successive league titles.
“Right now, the small margins are going against us, you have to accept it,” said Bradley after the sold-out St Patrick’s Day clash.
“You can correct me, but I thought we should have won the game quite comfortably. The St Pat’s ‘keeper has made some incredible saves and we hit the post twice. Mulraney’s goal was a hell of a strike, but other than that I thought we were excellent.
“It’s frustrating of course. They are top players and are hurting, like all of us are but you have to accept it, that’s life, that’s football. The performances bring results. Everyone reacts to results and I understand that, but if we throw everything we have done for five or six years out the window for one result, do you really believe in what you are doing?”
Bohemians 2-1 win over UCD saw them open up a three point lead at the top, and a 10-point lead on the champions, but Bradley remains calm amid their slow start to 2023.
“We will see come the end of the season where we end up,” said the 38-year-old.
“You end up where you deserve in any league campaign. We’ll talk about that in November. It’s hard to argue with that performance against St Pat’s.”
The Rovers boss also praised Trevor Clarke, after the post denied him a first goal for the club since returning on loan from Bristol Rovers last January.
“The key is he’s getting in the right areas,” added Bradley of the 24-year-old left-back, who made 100 appearances for the club before moving to Rotherham in July 2019.
“I have no doubt there will be a point in the season where Trevor goes on a run of scoring because of the positions he’s getting himself in. He has learned very quickly the way we want him to play. The rewards will come, he just needs to keep trusting that.
“He is a lot more mature now , you can see that in the way he performs. We still have to remember he hasn’t played a lot of 90 minutes in the last year. It will take time. All of his game is explosive power. He is definitely a better player for me now.”
Rovers midfielder Gary O’Neill echoed his manager’s comments on trusting the process and said while there is no panic in the dressing room just yet, he admits it is a difficult place to be amid their winless run.
“There has never been two weeks like this, never mind six weeks,” said the Tralee native.
"There is a bit of shock by what is happening. You’d nearly wish we were playing badly because you could pinpoint what’s going wrong, but it’s hard to pinpoint because we are playing well.
“It’s a disappointing changing room. The tide will turn, obviously it’s just hard to understand at the minute. It’s hard to fathom but there is no panic and we’re still positive about the title too."
“We’re not stupid, you don’t want to fall too far behind,” added the 28-year-old, when asked about Rovers’ four-in-a-row ambitions.
"There are a lot of good teams in the league that are in good form. But it’s a long season. It’s a league of runs I find, if you go on a run you find yourself climbing the table.
“Derry are a little bit more seasoned than this time last year. They had a taste of success winning the FAI Cup which might help them. We don’t want to let them get too far ahead of us but we’re not panicking about that just yet.”