How did the players and staff feel after the first league defeat in such a long time? Were there positives to take from it?
“It was strange because on many fronts it was a really good performance. Everything we do on the night suggests that we should win the game. 9 times out of 10 when you play that way and create the chances that we created you win the game. We’re obviously disappointed that we’ve lost the game but that’s the way it goes sometimes and we’ve just got to move on and get ready for Sligo”.
We’ve hit the woodwork three times and Aaron Greene has a golden opportunity near the end of the game, so as you said, on another night Rovers get a result?
“We hit it three times, we have Aaron’s header and we have one cleared off the line before that as well from a goalmouth scramble. But it wasn’t just the chances, I think our play in general was very good. We’re disappointed with the goals we gave away and there’s a few things we need to tidy up but overall, 9 times out of 10 you win that game. It just wasn’t to be on Friday.”
With so many first team players unavailable and the subs bench made up almost entirely of teenagers again, did that add to our bad luck?
“We have a lot of injuries at the moment, there’s no getting away from that. Ronan Finn jumps for a ball in the last second of training [on Thursday] and lands awkwardly, which puts him out. That’s the type of stuff that’s going against us at the moment. But it still didn’t have any effect on the performance on the pitch. I thought our performance from the eleven players was absolutely fantastic.”
How did you look at the two goals the team conceded? What more could have been done to prevent them?
“They were really poor from our point of view. You should never concede when it’s your corner and we have. There were a number of things that happened for that goal that we weren’t happy about because they’re not what we do. The players knew that straight away. The second one is sloppy from us on three occasions. So we made two poor mistakes on the night and got punished.”
Rovers again responded well with Joey O’Brien’s equaliser. Do the team always feel like they will get back into a game when behind?
“It shows that when teams score against you it can either be when you’re in control of the game or your backs are against the wall. If you’re hanging on, then it can have a really negative effect on you when a team scores but it happened when we were actually quite comfortable and pushing on. We hit the crossbar, we had one or two or chances and were playing really well at that stage. So it didn’t knock us at all. It all depends on when a goal against you goes in – and at that stage we were playing well”.
The 33-game unbeaten run had to end sometime but how proud are you of the players’ efforts the last year or two to keep it going as long it did?
“It’s an unbelievable record and I think we don’t quite appreciate how good a record it is. It went for quite some time and there’s a reason it’s never been done before. It shows the character and mentality from within the group every week. It’s an unbelievable achievement.”
What did you learn about Sligo from our first meeting at the Showgrounds in terms of their strengths and how much they’ve improved on last year?
“I said last year I thought Sligo’s position was false and I thought they were a very good side. We’ve seen evidence of that this year because they have good attacking players. They’ve shown on a number of occasions this year that they can score goals and create problems so they’re a good side.”
Sligo have closed the gap on Rovers to two points now so has this game taken on a greater importance?
“No, we don’t look at anything like that. We just concentrate on what we do and the game and the result will look after itself.”
Sean Hoare is still suspended. What is the latest on Ronan Finn and Chris McCann’s injuries, and is Graham Burke OK to play again on Monday?
“We’ll have to see how Ronan is this morning, it was really sore over the weekend. Chris did a bit of work on the pitch on Friday before the game so he’ll do a bit of work again. We’ll have to check on both of them and Graham and see how they are.”
Mondays’s match at Tallaght Stadium kicks off behind closed doors at 7.45pm. It is available to stream on #WatchLOI