Stephen Bradley knows eyes and the pressure are all on Shamrock Rovers

Dundalk’s new signings in line to play part in President’s Cup clash in Tallaght

Ronan Finn in action against Cameron Dummigan of Dundalk in the FAI Cup final. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Ronan Finn in action against Cameron Dummigan of Dundalk in the FAI Cup final. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

 

After having had the busier of the two clubs’ close seasons, Dundalk might be the more unknown of the two quantities heading into the President’s Cup game in Tallaght on Friday night but the occasion will provide the best indication yet of Stephen Bradley’s ability to fill the rather large hole left behind in midfield by the departures of Jack Byrne and Aaron McEneff.

“Yeah, it would be fair to say we lost two good players, you can’t deny that,” says the Shamrock Rovers boss. “One is an international and one will be. But I think how we play . . . everyone who has watched our games will see that it is built on what we do as a team. That doesn’t change.

“We’ve a really strong squad and it’s going to be nice to have all those eyes on us, people wanting to beat us, people talking about us. We know we have to work hard, that’s going to be difficult; I believe there is going to be a few teams right in there this year but it’s nice to have eyes one you, people talking about you, because it means you’re doing something right.”

As cheery as ever, Ronan Finn confirms that he expects to be featuring a bit more back at the heart of things but insists he came to quite like the wider role.

“I’ve actually enjoyed playing right wing back,” he says. “It’s somewhere I didn’t envisage myself playing at this stage of my career, but I’ve really enjoyed it,” he says. “So, tomorrow or whenever it is, it’s just about being in the team really.”

Finn finds himself in the mix now with Chris McCann, a rival way back in their schoolboy football days, along with Dylan Watts, who will be looking to nail down a more regular spot in the side and another new signing, Danny Mandroiu, whose move from Bohemians actually managed to add to the level of ill-will that usually exists between the two clubs.

Pat Hoban’s suggestion that last year’s season doesn’t really count because it was so drastically curtailed seemed to generate bemusement more than anything else in the Rovers camp on Thursday with Bradley not biting really when it was put to him. The manager was similarly disinterested in stirring it with regard to the identity of his opposite number this evening.

“I think the tea lady could pick the team up there and it would be a good team given the standard of the players in the squad,” he says.

If, as Shane Keegan suggests, there is a long process of consultation before he ultimately makes the call, there is plenty for the Dundalk management team to mull over. Brian Gartland and Michael Duffy are among those expected to sit the game out but there are still plenty of options, including some interesting new ones with Chris Shields suggesting that the likes of Raivis Jurkovskis and Sonni Nattestad have made positive early impressions.

Rovers will be without Neil Farrugia, Seán Kavanagh and Lee Grace. The game, which kicks off at 7.45, is being streamed for free on watchloi.ie.

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