Away day blues for Stephen Bradley

Mon, Aug 12 2019

Stephen Bradley Credit: Macdara Ferris (ETPhotos)

While Stephen Bradley was rightly complimentary about his side's battling away performance in Europe only losing out to Apollon Limassol in extra-time, he isn't happy that the Hoops are now due to travel next from one end of the country to the other across four days.

Bradley admitted his side were a bit flat in Friday’s 1-0 FAI Cup home win over Finn Harps having come into the game on the back of four weeks playing in Europe.

However he is more frustrated that due to fixture cancellations his side must travel to the Derry this Friday before taking on Waterford in the RSC the following Monday.

This is due to the fact that the FAI cancelled the Waterford v Rovers game that was due to take place four days before the start of the Toulon Tournament in June. 

“That is ridiculous," said Bradley about the fixture issues speaking to after his team’s FAI Cup win last Friday. "Whoever comes up with the fixtures, needs to have a long look at themselves. It is scandalous. 

“This is why I was giving out when the Toulon Tournament was on. This is the knock on affect of that.

“It is not good enough. It is not acceptable. This is about player welfare and understanding that this was coming down the road when they put it off week’s ago when both us and Waterford wanted to play it.”

A Dan Carr goal mid-way through the first half put the Hoops into the FAI Cup Second Round draw due which is due to take place this Monday. The Hoops dominated for much of Friday’s cup game but were put under considerable pressure in the closing quarter of an hour by Harps.

“It was nervy,” admitted Bradley. “We could have made it more comfortable but we didn’t but we are in the next round and that is all you can ask for really. We are happy. They played five across the 18-yard box and we had to be patient. It made for a slow game. 

“You could see things were a little bit flat and that is because we have had four weeks of really high energy games, packing this place out with big atmospheres. It was important that we were focussed and got the job done and they did that. 

“We have had to be careful with their load in training after last week with the extra-time in that heat (in Cyprus), along with the travelling and maybe that was why we maybe weren’t as sharp.”

Bradley was taking plenty of positives from his team’s run in Europe this year where they overcame Norwegian side Brann 4-3 on aggregate before losing 4-3 to Apollon Limassol across two legs. 

“We can take nothing but encouragement and positives from that run. Brann and Apollon have budgets that are maybe ten times ours. Apollon are playing in the group stages (in Europe) every year without fail. They won in Vienna (in the first leg of the third qualifying round). These are top teams, not mickey mouse teams.

“For our players, it helps them grow as a group. You believe in what you are doing more and more. AIK beat us in extra-time last year and they went on to win the league (in Sweden). It shows the standard we are up against.

"I believe this group is growing every year, it is only a matter of time that they push on in Europe and domestically.”