Stephen Bradley: 'To win three leagues in a row and only lose one home game in that period is incredible'

Stephen Bradley

Stephen Bradley Credit: Eddie Lennon (ETPhotos)

Stephen Bradley has set his side further targets as they look to bring a four-in-a-row to Tallaght Stadium.

“You have to have targets and want to achieve something,” said Bradley speaking after his side’s 2-0 win over UCD on Sunday gave them a club record points tally of 79 for the season. It left the Hoops with a league winning margin of 13 points over runners up Derry City.

“Our number one target next year is to retain our title and what comes with that would be four-in-a-row. I think we can push that points tally too. I’m delighted that we broke our points record from last year (78) and that we equalled the 24 wins from last season too. It is a fantastic record we picked up this season.”

While Bradley was speaking in the UCD Bowl after goals from Aaron Greene and sub Simon Power gave them the away win, the foundation of Rovers’ recent success has been their home form. In winning three-in-a-row, Rovers have remarkably lost just the one league game in Tallaght Stadium.

Their home league record since 2020 reads: P45 W35 D9 L1 F96 A27

“Our record at home is incredible and there is a lot that plays in to that; The groundsmen that give us a carpet of a pitch to play on. It is the crowd that are hostile for the other teams and it is the players who go and grab the game and are aggressive at home.

"To win three leagues in a row and only lose one home game in that period is incredible and one that we are really proud of.”

Bradley continued with Leon Pohls in goal after he played in Rovers’ 1-0 away defeat to Djurgardens last Thursday. The cleansheet earned by the German, his second from two starts in the league this season, gave the Hoops kept their 17th clean sheet of the 36 game league winning campaign – three more shut outs than last season.

“The clean sheet was important for the group (against UCD) as we pride ourselves on not conceding goals. Everything we do is built from clean sheets and being hard to beat.” 

The Hoops Head Coach had made six changes to his starting lineup from their final Europa Conference League game including giving Ukrainian Viktor Serdenyuk his first start. “It has maybe been frustrating for Viktor to not play but we had to have the right time and he got some minutes on Thursday (in Sweden) and tonight he was good.”

Simon Power was sprung from the bench to score his first goal for the Hoops and Bradley believes the player can have “real impact” at Rovers.

“Simon has electric pace and can finish off both feet. We need to make sure we get his body right. I think he will be big player for us next year.

“He is hands down the quickest player in the country. We got his stats from England and he was in the top five or six from the Premier League down to the Conference. That is how quick he is. We know what he is going to add to us. I've no doubt he will add goals next season.”

The win over UCD on Sunday was Rovers’ 54th and final game of a 268 day season – this compares with Dundalk’s 55 game campaign in 2016 across 307 days.

“We have played the most amount of games in the shortest space of time. People forget that and yet the players have retained the title by 13 points even with playing all those games.”

Bradley admitted that this was the “hardest year of my life” and he is now looking forward to spending time with his family and his son Josh who is undergoing treatment for leukaemia. 

“We will get a week or two off around Christmas when we can switch off. We are hoping that Josh will be doing well in his treatment at that point and we can spend some good time together.”