Stephen Bradley shared his thoughts with us on the eve of the 2020 FAI Cup Final.
Qst. Were you pleased with the win and the performance against Sligo last Sunday?
“We were delighted with the win. I thought we managed the game really well and we’re obviously delighted to get into the final.”
Qst. Did both goals came at good times, starting with the early one by Aaron McEneff?
“Yes, they did. I think the timing was crucial. The first one settled us and then the one before half-time really killed any sort of momentum they had which was really good.”
Qst. Sligo did have a good 10-15 minute spell before Aaron’s great strike for the second…
“They did but they are a dangerous team to be fair. They have some good players. They’re going to have a spell at some point so we managed that really well.”
Qst. Graham Burke and Dylan Watts had chances in the second half, how do you think it played out?
“We were OK. We were comfortable in the game. We managed it well and never looked in any real danger throughout the second half.”
Qst. Pico Lopes and Leon Pohls missed the semi-final but they’re back for Sunday, so are only Gary O’Neill and Rory Gaffney missing?
“Gary and Rory will be next year but Pico is back from quarantine and Leon’s arm is fine, so he’ll be OK.”
Qst. How great was it to get Greg Bolger back on the pitch and could he be an option to have late on, particularly given his impact in extra-time last year?
“Greg is back and I think he showed that, he was very good last week. He’s worked really hard so I’m delighted to get him on the pitch and that’s his little reward for working so hard. He’s obviously fit and available for Sunday night.”
Qst. It’s a repeat of last year’s Cup final, how special was that day for the club?
“It was a fantastic occasion and a really good game. It was a big day for us and tomorrow is another one. Cup finals are always fantastic to be involved in and play in so we’re really looking forward to it.”
Qst. This will obviously be a different day to last year with a near empty Aviva Stadium…
“That’s the only disappointing bit, that the fans can’t be there to see it. That’s the real downside of it but it’s still a Cup final and still a big occasion.”
Qst. But the players will still feel the support around the country whether it’s in bars or at home and want to do everyone watching proud?
“Exactly, I think it’s a chance to go and lift a trophy for the fans who haven’t been able to be in the grounds this year. It’s a chance to go and give them their little reward and thanks for being there with us behind the scenes and everything they’ve done for the club in these tough times. So it’s a chance for us to go and repay them.”
Qst. It’s the 100th Cup final and very much a showcase, do the players and staff enjoy the build-up and the media attention during the week?
“It’s just a normal week for us and we prepare like we do for every game.”
Qst. With the exception of the recent game at Oriel Park, Rovers v Dundalk is always close, do you expect a good game and another tight affair?
“I do expect another really tight game. It’s two really good sides going head-to-head so I expect a tough game.”
Qst. Are the players feeling confident and happy with our form going in?
“We’re full of confidence and we’re ready to go. We know it’s a tough game against a really good team but we’re focused and we’re ready.”
Qst. Have you and the players spoken about the chance to make history as Rovers haven’t done the double since 1987, and an unbeaten double would be of extra significance?
“We know what we can achieve in terms of the unbeaten double and just doing a double but we’ve got to focus on the performance. If the performance is there then we have a chance.”