Aidan Price: 'We are trying to instill that in them, whether they've been with us since 12 years of age or just a couple of months, that it means something to play for Shamrock Rovers'

Sun, Mar 08 2020

Aidan Price has taken charge of Rovers' senior ties, including the Leinster Senior Cup quarter-final against Dundalk in 2018. Credit: Eddie Lennon (ETPhotos)

It has been quite the eventful start for Shamrock Rovers II. Before a ball was even kicked the second coming of a Rovers second team in the second tier of the League of Ireland provoked quite the reaction.

Unlike in 2014, when Rovers had a B team in the second tier of the league for a single season, the second coming of Rovers' second team has been controversial.

The clubs that make up the First Division Alliance contemplated legal action to prevent the development team entering the league.

They were unhappy with the application process and questioned the sporting integrity of the team’s inclusion before ultimately deciding to play under protest.

Rovers began their First Division campaign with a 2-0 loss away to Longford Town with the host club publishing a match day programme for the opening night of the season with no reference to Shamrock Rovers.

In the second match, Rovers led against Galway United through a Brandon Kavanagh freekick before conceding an 86th minute equaliser preventing their first win of the season.

However, the match was overshadowed by the awful weather conditions that saw a number of players affected by hypothermia and one brought to hospital due to concern over frostbite.

On Friday night in Stradbrook, it looked like the Hoops had earned their second point of the season, only for Cabinteely’s Shane Barnes to head home the winner in the 91st minute.

extratime.ie spoke to Rovers II manager Aidan Price after that game to discuss the start to the season and what his club are looking to get from including the development team in the First Division.

“Our main aim is to see how many players we can get ready for the first team in an environment where they are going to be tested in other ways that they wouldn’t be tested in a 17s or 19s match,” said Price.

The manager had named a starting XI on Friday with one 20-year-old and ten teenagers (two 16-year-olds, three 17-year-olds, four 18-years olds and one 19-year-old player).

“If we can test them in the right environment at the right time, if we can take them back out and give them a breather and then let them go again, that is what we are going to do. Hopefully that will help Irish football as a whole not just our own club.”

In Cabinteely’s match programme on Friday, Director of Football Pat Devlin included “a warm welcome to manager Aidan Price and all those involved in Shamrock Rovers II” – in contrast to Longford Town omitting Rovers’ name from their match programme.

Price said: “if people want to be petty, they can be petty but we are not trying to do it to say look what we have. We are trying to do it because there are opportunities for us to help our players.”

Price only named six substitutes on the bench for the Stradbrook game but that wasn’t necessarily due to players being unavailable due to a reaction to playing in the sub-zero temperatures the previous week, but more due to the fact Rovers’ first team had a match 24 hours after the Cabinteely game.

“I’d never seen conditions like that,” said Price about the Galway United game in Tallaght.

“It was the wind chill that was blowing across that really affected the players. We didn’t really understand how bad it was until after the game and we saw the way the players were. Thankfully they are all okay.

“We don’t feel we need to have 18 players [in the squad] with the first team playing tomorrow night. They are the priority away to Sligo.

“It gives us an opportunity for other players. We had players from are under-17 National League team like Dara McGuinness who got on and made an impression.”

The extensive Rovers First Division squad includes 12 players from the club’s under-19 squad from last year that was managed by Price.

Peter Adigun has joined from Bohemians, Max Murphy came from Stoke City and Sean Brennan is on loan from Southampton.

“Sean Brennan is on loan for the year but Max Murphy has signed for us. It is a chance for Sean to get good game time. I know he played with Longford last year. He brings a bit of experience even if he is only 18 years of age.”

In addition to a number of players at under-17 level, the Hoops’ 47 player First Division squad includes eight players who are part of the club’s first team squad eligible at under-21 level: Sean Brennan, Sean Callan, Kian Clarke, Alex Dunne, Neil Farrugia, Brandon Kavanagh, Thomas Oluwa and Dean Williams.

On a match-by-match basis Price can also call upon one further ‘overage’ outfield player plus a goalkeeper from Stephen Bradley’s Premier Division selection.

Reflecting on the defeat to Cabinteely, Price – who captained Rovers to the First Division title in 2006 – said: “I thought they showed their qualities, albeit in difficult conditions on a poor pitch.

“Cabinteely are a big physical side so we had to match that first. I thought the only side that played when they had the opportunity was ourselves. We tried to play in the right areas but it is a big learning curve for us.

“Probably an error at the end cost us but I can’t be critical. You can see the disappointment when the players lose a game and that is the mentality that we want them to have.

“We are trying to instil that in them, whether they’ve been with us since 12 years of age or just a couple of months, that it means something to play for Shamrock Rovers.”