Shamrock Rovers aim to maintain momentum against Mlada Boleslav

Stephen McPhail hopes his young side can spring a Europa League surprise against Czech visitors

Shamrock Rovers’ players celebrate after going through against Stjarnan. The will need to improve if they are to progress past  Mlada Boleslav. Photograph: Bryan Keane/inpho

Shamrock Rovers’ players celebrate after going through against Stjarnan. The will need to improve if they are to progress past Mlada Boleslav. Photograph: Bryan Keane/inpho

 

Uefa Europa League Second qualifying round, first leg Shamrock Rovers v Mlada Boleslav Tallaght Stadium, 8.0pm

In the days when a good gate rather than prize money provided the pay-off for Irish sides in Europe, the likes of Mlada Boleslav represent every club’s worst nightmare, with the Czechs’ mix of ability and anonymity representing something of a perfect storm.

With Shamrock Rovers already guaranteed half a million already from this year’s run, Stephen McPhail suggests there is a little less pressure on their young team to generate another big pay day. The club’s Director of Football remains positive about the prospects of the Dubliners springing a surprise to progress.

Everyone bar Paul Corry is fit and available for Thursday’s first leg in Tallaght and after having kept clean sheets home and away in the last round there is a sense that Stephen Bradley’s young team is beginning to click, especially at home where they have not been beaten since St Patrick’s Day.

“We’ve got a good record here in Tallaght,” says left-back Luke Byrne, “unbeaten in 11 games. We’ve been poor away from home, there’s no getting away from that. But the last seven games [at home] we’ve kept four or five clean sheets and we’ve got to continue with that momentum.”

Their chances of making it through another round and banking another €220,000 or so would certainly be enhanced if they do not concede an away goal to opponents who have twice made the group stages of this competition and accounted for Marseille when they managed that for the first time a decade or so ago. 

Technically better

Byrne and the rest of the defence will probably have to improve significantly on last week’s performance against Stjarnan to pull it off, with goalkeeper Tomer Chencinski having to save his back four’s bacon on a couple of occasions.

This week’s visitors should be technically better but perhaps a little less match fit with the Czech season still a couple of weeks away, something that just might help to even things up a little.

“We have spoken about it the last few days,” says McPhail. “It’s about being fearless, trying to take the game to them and show them . . . we are well into our season so our fitness levels should be better than theirs, our sharpness . . . so we have to try and impose ourselves on them.

“It’s a big advantage if you’re a player who has only had three or four games under your belt (the Czechs have been at a training camp and most recently beat Sturm Graz in a friendly), compared to our boys who have 20-30 games; we need to take the game to them.”

The former Leeds and Ireland midfielder acknowledges the importance of keeping a clean sheet at home but insists: “I found over the years playing in two-legged affairs that you are never out of it unless you’ve got smacked in the first game. 

“The first game is important, that you give yourself a chance for the second leg. Last week, it was always in the balance. Even though we were 2-0 up you felt it could still go at any stage if they scored. You’ve got to mindful of that and respect the two legs.”

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.