We have the latest from Stephen Bradley on the big European game at Tallaght Stadium on Thursday night:
The 2-2 draw with Brann in Bergen:
“It’s always nice to score a goal at any stage but obviously to score late was important. I felt we deserved it. Our play on the night in general deserved at least a draw. You have to consider you’re away from home in Europe and that you’re against a good side so you have to be happy with the result. Parts of the performance I just felt at times that we could have been slightly better and hopefully tomorrow night we can be.
We actually started well and then they scored a good goal. I think that knocked us a little bit. We know our delivery is always good whether it’s Jack, Dylan, Sean or Aaron McEneff. It’s about hitting our areas and getting into our areas early. We did that last week and got two goals from it. The penalty was unlike Pico. He took a big step in the box and he got punished by a clever touch. He’s usually a very good defender so it was unlike him to get done like that.
This group has shown that there’s nothing wrong with their togetherness, character and desire to win games. The group has shown that a number of times over the last year and that was the case again in Norway when they went behind. It knocked us for maybe ten minutes but after that we completely settled and got back into our stride. Two away goals in Europe you have to be happy with.
The fans were brilliant. They travelled in their numbers again. It wasn’t an easy place to get to. I spoke to some of them during the week and some of the journeys that they had to take to get there were unbelievable. But they did like they always do and they were loud all night. It was nice for the players and staff to show their thanks and respect for the fans after the game.”
Tomorrow’s second leg in Tallaght:
“It doesn’t matter to us if people look at us as favourites now. What we have to understand is that we’re playing a very good side. It’s going to be a difficult game but I said before the first leg it’s a tie that we fully believe we can win and nothing changes that. We still have to go and win this game. There’s no other way of approaching it and they’ll obviously think the same. You can’t sit in against a team like this. If you do that you’re asking for trouble and you’re going to get punished.
Attacking wise they have some dangerous players and I’m sure they’ll change their team again tomorrow night and the players they bring in will be just as strong. You have to respect that they’re a good side, they will create chances and we have to be ready for that but we’ll go to win the game like we did last week.
If we get the crowd that we’re hoping for it’ll make for a really special atmosphere. It’s a massive game for us and hopefully we can get a big crowd to help us get over the line.”
Jack Byrne and Ronan Finn:
“I felt Jack Byrne was the best player on the pitch. His quality on the ball, his composure and work rate was excellent. He’s shown a real maturity in his game the last two months, he’s grown and he’s only getting better. Ronan Finn alongside him, it’s an unbelievable achievement from him to break the club record for European appearances (20). It shows everything that he’s about, how professional he is and how he lives his life. In big games and big European nights, Ronan shows up and he did it last week. He led by example.”
“It was great to get Aaron McEneff back on the pitch. It’s been a long injury and we’ve missed him. He was doing so well for us and any team would miss him. Thankfully he came away from the game with no issues and he’s trained all week. Neil Farrugia is the only injury, he’s still a little bit away, maybe another week. He’s running so he’s nearly there.”
Supporters are advised to get their tickets in advance, they are available online here or at the ticket office from 12-4pm on Wednesday and 12-6.30pm on Thursday.