Friday’s title celebration in Tallaght is almost SOLD OUT. Check for the last remaining tickets here. The game will be televised on RTE2 with coverage starting at 7.30 pm
You mentioned after beating Pat’s 2-0 last Friday to clinch that fourth title in a row, that players and staff would celebrate, as marking the achievement is so important. Is it fair to say you all celebrated well last weekend?
“Yes, it’s fair to say we’ve had a few shandies! We had a really good Friday and Saturday. It’s really important you celebrate these moments and we did it together which was really nice. We got to reflect on the season and moments in the season, so we definitely had a good weekend”.
On a difficult pitch in Cork on Monday, we managed a scoreless draw with ten changes from the Pat’s game. Were you pleased with the contribution of Naj Razi, Kieran Cruise and Conan Noonan given their youthful age?
“I was delighted with the young boys, it was a difficult one to come into considering the amount of changes we made. You look at the pitch and the weekend we had, it was a difficult one to come into but I thought they were all excellent. Naj and Conan in particular; to play together in central midfield and as such a young midfield, I thought they were very good. It was really good to see and probably just confirms what we’ve all felt, that they’re ready to play and are a real part of the squad and we know they’re ready to contribute and help.”
Leon Pohls again also demonstrated his readiness to play as Alan Mannus retires this week, with two terrific saves at the end in Cork. How impressive has his attitude and patience been, not only this season but for a long time now?
“When we brought Leon in, the goal was always to work with him and get him to a level that he could play for us. Every year we could see a change in him, in maturity physically and mentally, and it was about Jose (Ferrer goalkeeping coach) putting the finishing touches and they’ve worked extremely well together. We saw this year when he played after Alan got injured earlier in the season where he was excellent for us, and again in Cork on Monday he made two brilliant saves. He’s been excellent and credit to Leon, he’s had to be really patient.”
The league’s top goalscorer race sees Graham Burke only two off the leaders, some of whom might not play this weekend with imminent cup finals and play-offs, has Graham maybe an eye on matching or overtaking those other players tomorrow night if he has one of those games we know he’s capable of showing?
“Yes, that was the thinking getting him on the other night to see could he get a goal as we know he is just there at the top. It would be a brilliant achievement if he could go and do it, Friday gives him an opportunity to do that. We took Graham in and out of the team in the first part of the season with the second part of the season in mind. The last few years we did the opposite and he picked up some injuries so we reversed it this year and it’s worked really well with Graham in terms of his being excellent for us. He’s scored some really big goals and we know he’s a top, top player so hopefully tomorrow, he can add some goals.”
The title presentation is after the Sligo game in front of our own fans. This is really a massive moment for you and the team and staff to emulate the last four in a row team of the mid-80s, you must be looking forward to the presentation?
“We’re all looking forward to the night with all our friends, families and, obviously, the fans. It’s been hard work winning one, then two, three and getting four is difficult. It’s been about everybody chipping in every day and showing up. We’ve managed to win the fourth one which is brilliant, so it’ll be a special time in Tallaght Stadium on Friday. We’ll have a full house, everyone will be there, and I’m looking forward to celebrating with them and enjoying that moment. They don’t come around too often, so we need to make sure we enjoy it together and really savour the moment. People have spoken about that special Rovers four-in-a-row team of the 80s, we hear about them all the time and tomorrow night we get to go and join them at that top table which is nice. We’ll have many of the 80’s team there at the game to celebrate with us and that will be really special as well. They have been brilliant for us, so really looking forward to it all and enjoying the occasion with everyone.”