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With results having gone right for the Hoops, Shamrock Rovers have wrapped up European qualification for 2018 with three games remaining in the season. With Cork City and Dundalk playing in next month’s FAI Cup final, fourth position in the league once again is good enough for Europe.
Bray Wanderers’ late loss last Friday to Dundalk, means the Hoops have been handed a spot in Europe for next season - even though on Friday they could only draw with relegation threatened Sligo. The Hoops cannot finish lower than fourth and they are still looking to claim third place in the final league table.
Gary Shaw was on the scoresheet for the Hoops in the 1-1 draw with Sligo – his 11th of the season from 26 league starts. Shaw also scored in Europe earlier this year, his goal winning the away tie in Iceland against Stjarnan.
Shaw is delighted with the Rovers securing entry into the Europa League qualifiers for 2018 and also with his own contribution to Shamrock Rovers this season.
“Europe is massive for this club,” said Shaw. “I think that is the fourth year in a row that we’ve done it – the first time for a while. Financially it is massive.
“To attract in the best players - to have European football here will help. You want to be playing there when July hits. European football was one of the reasons why I came to play here. It was one of the targets set for the start of the season and we’ve hit that target. We want to cement third now.”
Last season Shaw scored six goals from 25 appearances but has really kicked on this year for the Hoops. There are five players in the league who have scored more than Shaw but the Rovers striker is very happy with meeting his own personal target and with his performances.
“This season I’ve chipped in with a few goals. I’ve got to double figures. That was a target. I just turn up, play the game and go home. I’ll give you everything on the night. I do the same in training. I’m not going to be looking for plaudits. If I get them happy days but if I don’t I don’t worry about it.”
The Hoops had a quick turnaround after the disappointment of last Tuesday’s FAI Cup semi-final replay defeat to Dundalk.
Shaw admitted that the loss to the Lilywhites may have had some affect on Friday’s game against Sligo but he believes, along with the fans, that the Hoops are very much moving in the right direction.
“Last year I don’t think we beat Dundalk or Cork and this year we have beaten both of them twice,” said Shaw who got the winner when Rovers beat Dundalk in Oriel Park in July. “That is a massive step forward. We are on the right road.
“The manager has been brilliant in bringing in good characters along with those additional young lads coming in. It is a really good group of players who are hungry for success.
“We left everything on the pitch (against Dundalk) and the fans saw that and appreciated that. It was tough to take for us but tough to take for them as they have been waiting for so long for a cup.
“It is in the back of our heads, as we know how long the club has been waiting to win the cup. We wanted to get that silverware but we aren’t far off of it.
“Physically we are in brilliant condition so Tuesday was more mentally draining. You put so much into the game, all the prep and then you are just devastated afterwards. Mentally it is tough to get yourself back on track and that could have been a factor against Sligo.”
For reaction from Hoops Head Coach Stephen Bradley to Friday’s draw with Sligo Rovers, see Sam McKeever’s piece here.