'The Brandywell pitch suits us': insists Shamrock Rovers boss

Stephen Bradley is looking forward to Friday night's visit to the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium.
Stephen Bradley is looking forward to Friday night's visit to the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium.

SHAMROCK Rovers manager, Stephen Bradley believes the Brandywell pitch is a surface which suits his free-flowing side and he’s intent on securing a second win on Foyleside this season.

The Hoops won 1-0 at the Lone Moor Road back in April thanks to Aaron Greene’s 43rd minute strike after a swift counter attack.

Bradley’s troops, who arrive in Derry in second place behind leaders Dundalk, face two games in the space of four days as they travel to face Waterford on Monday. And so Bradley is keen to make up ground on the runaway leaders and keep Derry at arm’s length.

“Derry are having a very good season,” he said. “Declan (Devine) is doing a great job up there and he has got a good group of players together.

“It’ll be a difficult game but we’re ready to go and win three points. The Brandywell is a pitch we enjoy playing on and it suits us,” he added.

Ex-UCD attacker, Neil Farrugia is likely to miss out while Leon Pohls took a knock in training and is rated doubtful as is Joey O’Brien who has been struggling with an ankle injury.

However, Bradley has an embarrassment of riches in his talented squad and could unleash Republic of Ireland international, Graham Burke - who bagged four goals in a 6-1 hammering of Derry last year - on the Candy Stripes following his loan move from Preston.

“It’s great to have Graham back,” added Bradley. “When we signed him he had a lot of other options but he pushed hard to make this happen.

“It shows his hunger and desire to play for the club again and it’s fantastic when you have players of Graham’s ability with that hunger and desire to play for us.

“In patches he did really well and could have had two goals. We have to understand that he was in pre-season so it was great to get minutes into him without any injuries. He’ll only get fitter and stronger in the coming weeks.”

Bradley’s side sit seven points behind Premier Division leaders Dundalk – with a game extra played – ahead of Friday's trip to the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium.

After a series of impressive displays in the Europa League qualifiers and a 1-0 FAI Cup win over Finn Harps, they can now concentrate on their league campaign.

“We had enough chances to make it more comfortable against Harps. You would have liked to make it more comfortable but we obviously didn’t and they were always in the game,” he added.

“But we got the win and we’re in the next round. We felt it would be a comedown after the European games and you could sense it on the night, it was a little bit flat in terms of the atmosphere, the build up and the buzz around the game. You could see that in parts of the performance.

“I thought overall we were just OK but the important thing was getting the win. Looking at the draw, especially early on in the competition it’s important to get a home draw and thankfully we have. It’s one to look forward to.”

Meanwhile, Rovers playmaker, Jack Byrne pipped Derry duo Peter Cherrie and Junior Ogedi Uzokwe to the July Player of the Month award.

“It’s great to win the award,” Byrne said. “I’m very proud of what we achieved last month. I’m delighted that my own performances are getting recognised but it’s really a reflection on how the team has been doing.

“I’m very grateful to win the award again but I wouldn’t be collecting it if it wasn’t for how well we did in Europe as a group. Playing in the Europa League was a good experience and I think we acquitted ourselves well. We were close to going through, so hopefully we can come back even stronger next year.”