Friday night’s President’s Cup game kicks off in Tallaght Stadium at 8 pm. Please note that home Season Tickets are NOT valid. Match tickets are still available. The game will be streamed live on LOITV.
After a busy end to the transfer window, bringing in Josh Honohan, Lee Steacy, Darragh Burns and Aaron McEneff as well as the return of Trevor Clarke, Johnny Kenny and Markus Poom, how have the new lads settled into the group and how is the group as a whole looking a week ahead of the league campaign?
“We’re really happy with the group. They’ve worked extremely hard, we’re really happy with the players we’ve brought in and the players returning to the club. We had to be patient as when they are loans it becomes a complex deal. You have to deal with the other club and all that entails, so we had to be very patient. But everyone we identified last year, we got, so we’re really happy with the group and looking forward to getting going.”
Pico’s exceptional performances for Cape Verde and their history-making run to the last 8 of AFCON finally ended last Saturday. How good were his performances in a really solid and competitive Cape Verde team?
“I think Cape Verde were excellent to watch, you could see they were really together. They went out on small margins, I think they had chances to win the game, but they go out and that’s cup competitions. Regarding Pico, I thought he was exceptional. We should all be really proud of him for the way he represented our club, on and off the pitch. I’m sure his family are really proud and the League should be proud. He represented the League incredibly well. For Pico to be the most capped player from the league is an incredible achievement, considering he joined the club as a part-time player. Now, he’s the ultimate professional, so all credit to him and we’re all extremely proud of him. We’re gutted he couldn’t go further. He was back in at Rovers early in the week with the group and we had a good chat and he has no injuries so he’s in a good place.”
Young Naj Razi left Rovers last week to join Serie B team Como 1907. He left a really respectful and heartfelt farewell message to the club on social media. How optimistic are you that Naj will make a good professional career for himself?
“I really hope he does. He’s a fantastic kid, and has been a pleasure to deal with and work with. I’ve known Naj since I first came into the club and started with the Academy in the Spawell when Naj was really young. To see his growth and maturity, on and off the pitch, has been a pleasure to see and be part of. We genuinely wish Naj nothing but success. I had a good exchange with him the night he left, he’s so mature for one so young. You can see and feel how much this club means to him, he’ll always be one of us and will always be welcome back at Tallaght Stadium. He’s part of this family and I hope, like with any kid, that injuries allow him to have the career his ability should allow him to have. He’s a special kid and a talented footballer who hopefully we’ll be watching on the international stage.”
Rovers season ticket sales have again soared to record levels, the new North Stand is ready, so it’s another huge season ahead for fans and the group in 2024.
“It’s incredible. You only have to look at the President’s Cup game. It’s close to selling out, the season ticket sales are at an all-time high. With the new North Stand, our aim has to be to fill that as often as possible, to fill the ground as often as possible. I’ve no doubt we can do that, with everybody around the club playing their part to make sure that happens and the team trying to play good football and winning games obviously will help. There’s a lot more that goes into it than that, but it’s positive all-round for the club on and off the pitch. But us as a group we’re just looking forward to getting going and we’re looking forward to the challenge of being better than we were last season.”
The President’s Cup Final will be decent preparation for the league opener next week. Will you look to give decent minutes to as many players as possible or will the game and how it’s going dictate that option?
“Our substitutions will be already made in our head and we hope injuries and the game will allow us to do that. It’s an important game, there’s something on the line, we’re playing against a good St Pats side and we want to win the game. But we’ve always used it as a pre-season game, in terms of getting players ready for the Dundalk game next week. That will continue to be the case against St Pat’s. But we’ll try to win the game and our substitutions, I think we’re allowed six, will be already planned and hopefully can happen.”
Finally, ahead of the President’s Cup game, are any players unavailable for selection?
“Richie Towell and Aaron McEneff are unavailable and Johnny Kenny is still doing some rehab, but hopefully they won’t be too long. Richie should be next week, Johnny similar, and Aaron Mc is also very close for next week.”