The Hoops welcome Waterford to Tallaght Stadium on Monday night (kick off 7pm) for a re-scheduled fixture due to Rovers’ Europa League qualifier last week against AC Milan. In that match the Hoops lost 2-0 they received great credit for their performance against the seven times European Cup champions.
“The players were excellent,” said Bradley reflecting on the Europa League qualifier. “They showed that they can perform on a really big stage against a team that are obviously full of world class players and they deserve tremendous credit for being so brave and playing the way we played.
“I felt it was important that we stuck to our principals and played our game. You obviously need to be careful doing that against a top team like Milan but I felt the players did it really well and on another night maybe could have scored one or two. That was really pleasing that we created some really good chances off the back of playing the way we play.
“We’ll take the positives from it and we’ll learn from the negatives and bring it on and make us a better team. Hopefully on Monday against Waterford and going forward in Europe next year.”
Rovers are unbeaten in domestic action at home since June 2019 and, having had their gap at the top narrowed after Bohs’ win in Sligo over the weekend, the Hoops are seeking a win to build back up an eight point lead by the end of the night by which point will have six league games remaining.
With European distractions out of the way – and the FAI Cup quarter-final against Finn Harps set for after the end of the league campaign – the Hoops can now concentrate on trying to secure their first league title since 2011.
“It’s back to what will be a tough game for us, Waterford have been in good form. We have to make sure we’re focused and ready to for a tough game.
“They’ve been doing well, they have some good players and they’ve been scoring goals. They have some good attacking threats so it’s going to be a good game on Monday.”
The Blues come to Tallaght with back-to-back wins against Dublin team’s having won 3-0 at home to St. Patrick’s Athletic and 2-0 away to Bohemians (with goals from Ali Coote and Tyreke Wilson) in what were John Sheridan’s last games in charge of Waterford before he departed for Wigan.
“The lads know how big a fixture this is," said first-team coach Fran Rockett said.
"We’ve worked hard in training and prepared ourselves for a tough, physical game, having watched Rovers in action against AC Milan, they did very well so we know what to expect tonight.
“Losing John (Sheridan) came a bit out of the blue and I wish John all the best with Wigan. It just goes to show that there’s always interest across the water for what goes on here.
“Tonight is a fantastic opportunity to remind those around us in the table that we’re still well in it for a place.”
A win for Waterford would move them into third place in the table within four points of Bohs and three points clear of Dundalk (although they will have played two games more than the Lilywhites).
They have lost just the one game on their travels in the league this season – that was a 2-1 defeat to Sligo last month.
When the teams met earlier in the year at the RSC, the Blues blew the chance of a result with a disastrous opening 17 minutes of the match.
Akin Odimayou put through his own net after only 3 minutes and then Andre Burley was sent off for taking down Dean Williams with Rhys Marshall scoring from the resulting freekick.
Referee: Paul McLoughlin
The teams have played nine times since the return of the Blues to the top flight in 2018. Waterford won the first match against Rovers 2-1 that season and that is the last victory they have earned over the Hoops. There was a draw and two wins in the other encounters that year. Rovers won all four ties last season.
In domestic action the Hoops have kept a clean sheet in their last five fixtures and are unbeaten in the league this season.
Graham Burke is the Rovers top goalscorer with six in all competitions, five of those coming in the league – with those goals all coming in the one game against Cork City. Aaron Greene has scored four in the league and one in Europe. Ali Coote is top scorer for the Blues in the league with three goals.
Shamrock Rovers 1/4; Draw 4/1; Waterford 9/1.
3-1 home win
Injured: Rory Gaffney, Danny Lafferty.
Injured: Sam Bone