The President’s Cup kicks off at 7.45pm and is available to watch on LOITV
Last Saturday saw Rovers return to Leinster Senior Cup action with a 4-1 win at UCD. Were you pleased with the performance?
“I was really pleased with the attitude of the players. We’ve come off the back of a tough week in Spain. We’d only just arrived back on the Friday and we’d to go and play UCD, on what was a poor pitch. I thought the players’ attitude was brilliant. They worked extremely hard, and it was a good game to have at this point of pre-season.”
Markus Poom has already made an impact with a great strike for his debut goal and two assists. How was good was he on the day?
“Markus was excellent, and he’s been like that all of pre-season. It helps that he’s watched quite a bit of us last season, so he knows how we play and how we do things. There are still little details that he needs to become familiar with but I’m sure he will over the next few weeks. It’s been a really positive start from Markus.”
Are you happy with our transfer business over the winter and the four players that have come in – do you feel we’ve strengthened the squad in every department?
“I feel that the squad is the strongest that we’ve had in quite some time. The competition for places is really strong. Stephen McPhail has worked extremely hard in making the transfers happen and obviously the board have backed it as well, so we’re really happy with the business we’ve done.”
How did you feel pre-season preparations went overall, including the week-long training camp in Spain?
“It’s gone really well. We’re just off the back of a heavy week in Spain, which was good. We’ve had some good games, and everyone has got minutes into their legs. There are one or two players who are a little bit behind, but everyone is at a really good level. Everyone looks ready to go. We’re only a week away from the season, so at this point we just want that first game, which is Sligo.”
We began last year with silverware by winning this curtain raiser of the President’s Cup, so a repeat of that against our rivals Derry tomorrow would be a positive start to the new campaign?
“Of course. There’s a trophy there to be won and we’ll try and do that. We’ve done that the last couple of years we’ve played in it and tomorrow will be no different. We’ll go up to try to win the game. It should be a good game and it’ll get us ready for Sligo in a week’s time.”
Do you feel that as an opponent Derry will be just as strong, if not stronger this season?
“I imagine so. Derry have a good squad and they had a good season last season. They’ll be strong and it’s the same for several other teams, like Dundalk and St Pat’s, who will be stronger than they were last year. It has all the makings to be a tough and enjoyable season.”
Liam Burt had to come off in the first half at the UCD Bowl. Is he OK?
“Liam is fine. It was more a precaution because he got a bang early in the game and we just didn’t feel the need to take any chances with it, especially on the back of a tough week. He’s trained all week and he’s OK.”
Which players are ruled out with injury for Derry?
“We’ll probably be missing six or seven on Friday. Sean Kavanagh, Sean Hoare, Sean Gannon, Ronan Finn and Gary O’Neill are all unavailable, and some of them just have knocks that we’ll be careful with and think about the bigger picture of the league campaign.”