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Q&A with Stephen Bradley on Monday’s win away at Waterford, and this evening’s home game v Dundalk. Kick-off in Tallaght Stadium is at 7.45pm.
Were you pleased with another win in Waterford on Monday night?
“I was delighted because it was a quick turnaround. Waterford is a difficult place to go at the best of times especially on a Monday night. We made some changes, we freshened it up and the players that came in were excellent. The early goal really helps and then the sending off really kills them in the game and allows us to dominate it.”
Did you feel we were extremely comfortable especially in the second half and should have added a few more goals?
“We were and if there’s one criticism it’s that in the second half we could have taken a couple of our chances. To be fair to Brian Murphy in the Waterford goal he was excellent, he made four or five really good saves in the second half. It probably got a bit easier and we dropped our tempo but that’s understandable as well.”
You made six changes, a couple were forced but does it demonstrate the strength of the squad?
“We’ve always felt this year that our squad is really strong and it’s fine margins for the players that are out of the team. The players that are playing and not playing, there’s very little between them in quality. But you don’t really know until you play a competitive game and Monday was our first time to change the squad and it showed that it is as strong as we felt.”
Liam Scales made his first start. An assist and a goal for Rhys Marshall on his debut, how do you think they did?
“Both were excellent. Rhys has been carrying an Achilles problem since he came in so we’ve had to manage his load. To get him on the pitch for 70 odd minutes was great. The way he played and performed doesn’t surprise me whatsoever, I’ve watched him for a long time and I knew he has that quality. Liam has hit the ground running since he came in, he’s tactically very clever and his football IQ is really high. When you get a player like that who’s willing to learn it’s easy to slot him into how we play.
”It’s your best start to a season as manager, three wins from three, and you must be delighted with the goals for and against columns so far as well.
“We felt we needed to start quickly and get points on the board. We worked really hard in pre-season to give us that platform to do that. We’ve nine goals and conceded none so we need to try and keep that clean sheet run going. That’s everything we work for.”
What do you expect from Dundalk tomorrow?
“They’re obviously league champions and a top team but we don’t fear anyone. We’ll go and impose our game on them. They’re a good side but we’re a good side as well and we’ll go to win the game.
”It’s only the fourth game of the season but both teams still have 100% records, does this feel like a big game already?
“It’s four games in. You’re playing your rivals so it’s a big game but win, lose or draw we’ll move on to Sligo next week and look to win.”
It’s our first meeting since beating them in the FAI Cup final so is it a continuation of that rivalry?
“It’s continuing on when you have two teams that are pushing each other, it’s always going to be made into a rivalry but last year is done. The Cup is done, it was November so we forget about it now. It’s about tomorrow night and showing up and being ready to impose our game on them.”
What players are we missing?
“Graham Burke [calf injury] is out for a couple of weeks and Sean Kavanagh is still 6-8 weeks away. We’re not sure yet if Gary O’Neill will be involved. All our thoughts and prayers are with Gary and his family. The players were with him on Tuesday and will be today for the funeral [of his mother]. It’s a really difficult time for him and his family. It’s totally up to Gary, if he feels that he can play he’ll definitely be involved. If he doesn’t feel that he’ll be in the right frame of mind he won’t be but I think it’s important that it’s Gary’s decision. We support him 100% no matter what because it’s time for him right now to be with his family and grieve.
”New signing Rory Gaffney will be involved one or way or another though?
“We’re hoping to get clearance today, if we get that then Rory will play, whether he’ll start or come off the bench but he’ll definitely be involved.”
A potential sell out at Tallaght Stadium on Friday, everyone is looking forward to it and that’ll hopefully mean a great atmosphere in supporting the Hoops.
“It’s fantastic that we’re talking about a League of Ireland game being a sell-out, over 8,000 and it’s no surprise that it’s our club that’s involved in it. Our fans are fantastic and they showed that at Bohemians away and Waterford on Monday when they travelled in their numbers. Tomorrow night there’s talk of a big crowd so it’s great, first of all, that we’re talking about a League of Ireland game in such a positive light with such big crowds and second of all, it’s such a reflection of our club that it’s us that’s involved in it and involved in games like this. It shows where we’ve come and where we’re going so I’m delighted to have another big crowd in Tallaght.”