Monday 26 February 2018

O'Neill calls for focus on home front

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

IT'S back down to earth for Shamrock Rovers tonight when UCD arrive in Tallaght for an FAI Cup tie that was put back due to the small matter of last Thursday's Europa League tie against Partizan Belgrade.

That famous win in Serbia has promoted the Hoops to a different stratosphere, with an unprecedented level of attention continuing to come their way over the weekend.

Nevertheless, manager Michael O'Neill was happy with the focus of his squad in training yesterday morning.

"This game is just what we need after the week just gone," he said. "It will help us refocus and get our minds back on domestic affairs."

O'Neill will freshen up his team but must do so without Dean Kelly, Ken Oman and Conor McCormack who remain on the sidelines, while Karl Moore is cup-tied. Ciaran Nangle and Robbie Creevy are UCD boss Martin Russell's injury worries.

For the Rovers board, the planning for the Europa League group stages goes on. Hoops officials will sit down with representatives from the South Dublin County Council and the FAI this morning to discuss the feasibility of installing seating to bring the capacity of the venue close to 12,000.

UEFA officials are due to visit the stadium on Wednesday and Rovers -- who want to bring Rubin Kazan, PAOK and Spurs to Tallaght instead of moving the games to the Aviva Stadium -- will need to show them what plans they have in place.

The South Dublin County Council are understood to be positive towards staging the marquee encounters in Dublin 24, conscious of what the games will do for the area.

Time is tight, but the Hoops are confident that they could get all the necessary work done well in advance of the September 15 opener with Rubin Kazan. They hope to erect stands behind both goals, although building at just one end would bring them over the 8,000 minimum requirement.

After discussions about the general state of the Europa League in Monaco after Friday's draw, Rovers have reason to believe that UEFA will look positively upon their plans.

Kearns destined for Peterborough move

DUNDALK have agreed the transfer of highly rated winger Daniel Kearns to Peterborough for a six-figure sum.

The Belfast lad, whose defection from Northern Ireland to the Republic was unsuccessfully challenged by the IFA, will travel to England to finalise the deal before Wednesday's transfer deadline.

The fee, believed to be about €150,000 with add-ons to follow, represents good business for the Lilywhites considering that Kearns, an Irish U-21 international, is out of contract at the end of the season.

He has proved a success since returning home after an unsuccessful spell across the water with West Ham and was one of the few players to impress for the Airtricity League XI in the recent Dublin Super Cup.

Irish Independent

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