O'Neill relies on Old Lady to push Hoops to victory
Michael O'Neill is hoping the prospect of a date with an old lady can entice his players past their Israeli opponents this evening.
Tel Aviv is full of blue-rinsed American tourists soaking up the sun as part of a trip to the Holy Land. But the Shamrock Rovers players have their eyes on an Italian gal.
Juventus await the victors of tonight's clash between Bnei Yehuda and the Hoops at the Bloomfield Stadium (6.30) and the Rovers manager last night spoke to his players about the image of the famous black and white stripes of the Old Lady lining out at Tallaght.
With the tie poised at 1-1, O'Neill knows his side need to score in the intense Israeli heat, but he saw enough from the first leg to believe that progression is a possibility.
"The players know the significance of a game like that (against Juventus)," O'Neill said. "They know that taking part in a game like that would be a major highlight in their career.
"They've been very professional, I haven't heard it mentioned much to be honest. The problem is that the draw was made before we played Galway and we never mentioned it at all.
"We have talked about it briefly here and we'll talk about it at training. So, that will be an incentive. I don't think it will make them nervous in any way. I think it's there to give them that bit of added inspiration, to be part of a game like that -- particularly in Tallaght.
"We obviously understand the financial benefits that would bring to the club, the lucrative tie it would bring in the next round."
Rovers are currently top of the Airtricity League table and unbeaten in 10 league games. Apart from long-term absentees Dessie Baker and Pat Sullivan, they have no injury worries ahead of tonight's game and O'Neill says his players are enjoying their football.
"Confidence is high," he said. "We're in a nice enough position in the tie, I think we'll get chances and if we can take those, I think we're strong enough at the back to make that count.
"I don't think they expected as tough a game in Tallaght as they got. We forced it a lot and put the ball in the box and they didn't deal with that particularly well. That's something that we'll have to utilise tomorrow night but I think they will be more wary of us."