Macdara Ferris reports from Tallaght Stadium
After three consecutive draws – albeit with an epic penalty shootout victory seeing Rovers progress in Europe to play AC Milan - Shamrock Rovers Head Coach Stephen Bradley was glad to see his team get back to winning ways on Monday evening with a 2-1 FAI Cup win over Cork City in Tallaght.
The Hoops dominated possession in their recent scoreless draws in the league against St. Patrick’s Athletic and Shelbourne but couldn’t break either team down in those derbies.
Against City on Monday, the Hoops again had the bulk of the ball but on this occasion they were able to convert that possession into goals – even if the goalscoring hero on the night was left wing back Danny Lafferty.
“He performed really well,” said Stephen Bradley about the player who scored his first ever goals for the Hoops in this FAI Cup tie. “He has that quality in the final third and his left foot is really good. Overall his game management is very good.”
With Neil Farrugia with the Ireland under-21 camp, it allowed Lafferty the opportunity to start his fourth game of the season.
After the game against Ilves last week with 120 minutes and penalties, Bradley also used the FAI Cup game to give a rest to a trio of players who between them had started all bar two of Rovers’ games this season (Ronan Finn, Aaron Greene and Aaron McEneff).
“After the high of Thursday night and what it took out of the players physically and mentally, tonight was all about getting in the hat for the quarter-final. I thought the players were excellent in how professional they were in their approach to the game. They managed it really well.
“When you look at Ronan Finn, Aaron Greene and Aaron McEneff, they covered nearly 15kms each in that Europa League game which is incredible. So we need to be really careful with them and make sure that they recover. If you play them, you are asking for trouble with injuries.”
The Hoops had beaten City 6-0 in Tallaght the last time they played so came into the cup tie smarting from that defeat and wanted to put it right. “We knew it was a difficult tie as it was the only all Premier Division tie and the fact we had beaten them so comfortably last time.
“It was a free shot for them and (for Rovers) it came on the back of last Thursday which makes it harder. They came and sat in and in the first half we worked it out well with good angles and good passes.”
Top of the table Dublin derby
The Europa League qualifier against Milan in mid-September will be pushed to the back of the player’s minds by the fixture that the Hoops have this weekend.
Bohs come to Tallaght unbeaten since the season restart - winning four in the league, one in the cup (2-0 at home to Cabinteely on Monday) and a draw against Fehervar in their away Europa League qualifier (before elimination on penalties).
If Keith Long’s men can win on Saturday afternoon, the Gypsies will jump above Rovers into top spot in the Premier Division. The Hoops haven’t lost since September last year and are undefeated at home since Dundalk won 1-0 in Tallaght in June 2019 so it is a mouth watering top of the table clash.
“(Our players) won’t need any motivation – it is a Dublin derby against Bohs who are in form and playing really well. We are unbeaten just short of a year and that is something we are really proud of and want that to continue.”