Shelbourne's Mark Coyle: 'I don’t feel we are far off Shamrock Rovers at all'

Shelbourne captain Mark Coyle reckons that his side are not far off the level set by four-in-a-row league winners Shamrock Rovers. 

The Reds host the Hoops in front of a sold-out Tolka Park on Friday night, with 4,700 supporters expected to pack into the venue. 

Shels are yet to defeat Shamrock Rovers under boss Damien Duff - and have not beaten them in a league game since May 2005. 

And while Shels skipper Coyle admits the Drumcondra side are not on Rovers level yet, they are close after two years of growth under their boss. 

I feel like the recruitment this year has definitely made us stronger,” he explained. “There's a lot of experience and winners in the group. 

“We have improved massively and got Europe so I don't feel we are that far off them at all. 

“They are going for five in a row so I won't say we are right at them. We're not. “

“We need to win stuff. We respect them and understand they are a great side but we don't fear them in that sense. 

“You have to respect them but not too much and let them have it their own way. We want to impose ourselves on the game as well and get three points.”

Coyle assumed captaincy duties at Shels this season following the retirement of defender Luke Byrne, who has subsequently been appointed as the club’s Technical Director.

“I wouldn’t say it was something I was expecting but it was something I was extremely proud and privileged to get,” the Co Donegal man said on the captaincy. 

“I was very grateful to the gaffer for picking me. Not much has changed off the field. The dressing room runs itself and it’s just taking up the roles and responsibilities. 

“I’d say the biggest part now is managing myself on the pitch and I’m probably a bit disappointed with my performance against Waterford last Friday. 

I was probably demanding too much of myself and then your own performance suffers. 

“It’s something that is new to me and it will take time but it is something that I’m excited about and I want to embrace.”

And while Coyle is keen to deliver on the pressure of being captain, he also wants to help the Reds win a major trophy sooner rather than later.

“There is a bit more pressure now that we've got Europe,” he said. “Fans might expect that bit more but it's good pressure to have. 

“It’s better than the pressure of being relegated. It's the pressure of wanting to achieve and win things. 

“If you don't want that as a player you're not going the right way, you have to buy into it and embrace it.

“A few of the Shels fans and the boys in here know that the club went through some tough years and they are buzzing that it's back in a good place. 

“We are back in Europe. If you ask any player, you just want to win trophies.

“That's what you dream of so it's something we want and are pushing to achieve, this year or next year or whenever it is. That is the goal for the club, the gaffer and us.”