Hawkins believes it's time the players put their hands up


IT WOULD, says Shamrock Rovers player/coach Colin Hawkins be “stupid” to suggest he had been completely surprised when he heard this week that the club had decided to dispense with the services of manager Stephen Kenny barely eight months into what was supposed to be at least a three-year spell in charge of the club.

Having narrowly survived the team’s early European elimination and a rocky spell in the league around the same time, the 35-year-old admits he felt the Dubliner might have been left in place until the end of the campaign when a lot of squad rebuilding will be possible.

Not for the first time around Rovers, however, being beaten by Bohemians was reckoned to be the last straw and as the club’s board weighs up its options, Hawkins and the rest of the coaching staff, led by Stephen Glass, must simply get on with things, starting with tonight’s Ford-sponsored FAI quarter-final against Shelbourne at Tolka Park.

It is, says the man who was brought to Tallaght by Kenny at the start of the year, a huge disappointment to see the manager go and one that players must, he insists, take their share of responsibility for.

“Absolutely yeah,” he says, “without a shadow of a doubt, I’d have absolutely no problem at all saying that a lot of the lads have underperformed – I’m probably one of them. Ronan Finn is here today and he’s been outstanding for the last couple of months but there’s not many that can hold their hands up and say that ‘I’ve done myself justice this year’.”

Hawkins is dismissive of the idea that Kenny may or may not have lost the dressingroom, observing that as professionals, many of whom won the league last year, they had enough to play for – pride, the club, the supporters – even if they were not intent on giving their all for the love of Kenny, and yet simply didn’t come up to the mark.

“There’s some opportunity now for someone to kick on for the remainder of the season alright,” he says. “This week alone is massive. We have tomorrow then another (the EA Sports) cup final next week. It’s a super opportunity, especially for Stephen Glass and I’m delighted for him, I know he’s well capable of doing the job.”

Hawkins seemed well placed to progress under Kenny, who clearly regarded him highly. But his position, like Glass’s, is now in doubt, with his contract, as both player and coach, due to expire at the end of the campaign. The hope now is to do enough to persuade someone, whoever it might be, that he has something to contribute to the club’s longer-term future.

“I’m 35 but I feel I can play for another couple of years, definitely. I’m hoping and praying it’s still at Rovers but that is out of my hands. If a new manager comes in, he only has six or seven games to make massive decisions with 18 or 20 contracts for fellas. That will be tricky.”

If Hawkins and the others can take the club to a long overdue cup success, then all of their chances of being kept around are likely to be considerably enhanced. First of all, though, they must do for Glass what they couldn’t for Kenny last week and beat Shelbourne.

If they do, the chance to settle the score with Bohemians might only be another round away.

Any quarter-final replays are scheduled to be played on Monday evening.

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