Shamrock Rovers boss Collie O’Neill: 'I’m delighted with our progress so far'

Luke Jordan reports from Tallaght Stadium

Shamrock Rovers head coach Collie O’Neill spoke of how ‘proud’ he is of his side despite watching them fall to their first defeat of the season against Peamount United on Saturday.

Rovers were edged out by the Peas thanks to an 83rd minute goal from Sadhbh Doyle – and subsequently went six points behind the Peas in the race for the league title.

But after watching his side show their ability in front of a record crowd at Tallaght Stadium and shine against the league leaders, the former UCD boss insisted his side turned in a strong display.

“I’ve no complaints over the performance,” he told “I thought the performance was really, really good.

“We’ve dominated the game and 99 times out of 100 the performance looks after itself, the result looks after itself, but we fell into that bracket of one out of 100.

“It is a tough one to take but I’m so proud of everything they have done and how much they’ve grown over the last while.”

Rovers started both halves brightly, playing some very attractive possession-based football at times – similar to what O’Neill cultivated while in charge of UCD in the men’s ranks.

And it is that style of play that showed why the Hoops are challenging for the Women’s Premier Division title after a nine-year spell away.

“It’s our home ground, we want to set the tempo and dominate the ball and I think that’s what we did from the off,” the Drogheda native added.

“Everything we’ve been teaching them, we did it and games like this come down to fine margins.”

Rovers had their chances to come out on top with exciting prospect Jaime Thompson wasting a glorious chance to give them a lead before Peamount struck with a winner.

“If Jaime takes that chance it’s a different game,” O’Neill added. “A couple of minutes later they take their one chance in the game. That’s football for you.

“It’s a completely different game, we probably would have pushed on and gotten more out of it.

“But we didn’t take it. We have to tidy up the mistakes at the back and add an extra bit of quality in the final third so we can penetrate and be a little bit more effective in games against teams that want to sit in.”

During the week Shamrock Rovers keeper Amanda Budden spoke to the podcast of how she is ‘pleasantly surprised’ with how well Rovers have performed this year – and O’Neill has echoed those views.

“It’s a whole new group put together,” he added. “We are trying to teach them how to play football that they’ve never done before.

“I’m delighted with that progress so far. If we keep going the way we’re going, it’s only a matter of time before we’re the ones at the top of the league. We’re on the right track.”

With no league game until August, Shamrock Rovers will compete in a cross-border competition with NIFL clubs.

But Rovers will face a test of their credentials with Glentoran, Peamount United, and Wexford Youths in their group.

“It gives us a chance to have a look at some players and rotate,” O’Neill finished. “We will be treating it like a little pre-season to see if we can get a little extra out of the players.”

Rovers first game in the group stage of the Avenir Sports All-Island Cup is against Peamount United in Tallaght Stadium again next Saturday. Kick-off is at 5.30pm.