Soccer – Hoops set for crucial european away clash today

by Dave Donnelly
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Europa conference league play-off 

FC Flora Tallinn v Shamrock Rovers, 

Today, 5pm, Live on Virgin Media

By Dave Donnelly

Stephen Bradley says Shamrock Rovers “couldn’t be in a better scenario” heading into tonight’s Europa Conference League play-off with Flora Tallinn.

The Hoops travel to the Estonian capital for the first leg on the back of eight straight victories following home and away wins over Albanians KF Teuta.

Bradley made seven changes from the side that won 2-0 in Estoril on Thursday for Sunday’s league meeting with Drogheda United.

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One of those changes, striker Aaron Greene, proved the difference maker as he tapped home a Graham Burke cross ten minutes into the second half.

Burke was another to impress after being named on the bench in Albania, and Bradley (below) sees it as evidence of just how strong the squad he’s put together is.

“I think we’ve got great options all over the pitch. I don’t see a first XI. I believe whatever XI we put out can go to any ground in the country and win the game.

“We made six changes today but it didn’t hurt us in any way,” the Jobstown native said. “We believe every player is ready to play and any team we put out we believe is good enough to go to any ground in the country and win the game. We really believe that.”

15 August 2021; Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley before the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match between Drogheda United and Shamrock Rovers at Head in the Game Park in Drogheda, Louth. Photo by Michael P Ryan/Sportsfile

Flora Tallinn were the opposition in the Champions League first round when Rovers qualified for the Europa League group stages 10 years ago.

That tie finished 1-0 in favour of the Hoops and Bradley thinks the sides are just as evenly-matched on this occasion.

Only goalkeeper Alan Mannus and captain Ronan Finn remain from the 2011 vintage and, as much as Rovers have improved since then, so have the Estonian champions.

“I watched the game their game in Europe on Thursday. They were excellent and deserved to win the game. That is saying something as that Cypriot team are really highly regarded.

“I thought Flora were fantastic with attacking players both wingers very good, centre-forward was clever. They had good movement and rotation.

“It is going to be a really difficult tie but we are in really good form we couldn’t be going into it in a better scenario. Everyone is fit and ready to go.”

Caption: Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley talks to Rory Gaffney (left)and Danny Mandroiu during the UEFA Europa Conference League match against Teuta in Elbasan, Albania.

Photo: Florion Goga/Sportsfile

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