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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Paul O'Hehir

Sean Kavanagh: 'All we can do is turn up tomorrow, get a goal early and give it our best'

Sean Kavanagh has stressed the need for Shamrock Rovers to channel their European frustration in the right way.

The Hoops are back in Champions League action tomorrow night when they host Bulgarian aces Ludogorets at Tallaght Stadium (8pm).

But the League of Ireland champions have it all to do to advance in Europe’s elite club competition after a 3-0 defeat in Razgrad last week.

READ MORE: Late Drogheda equalizer frustrates league leaders Shamrock rovers

At 2-0 down in injury-time, Rovers had something to cling to but they conceded a killer third in the 94th minute after getting caught trying to play out from the back.

Kavanagh, who made an impact off the bench in a second-half performance where the Hoops were much improved, admits morale was rock bottom at the final whistle.

Kavanagh revealed the dressing room was deathly silent for a spell, before player anger and frustration took over.

And to compound matters, Rovers were then held to a 1-1 home draw on Saturday as Drogheda United cancelled out the 79th minute opener with an 87th minute equaliser.

No matter what happens against Ludogorets tomorrow, Shamrock Rovers know they have the safety net of the Europa League’s third qualifying round if they go out.

And there is a guaranteed spin in the Europa Conference League after that, if it’s needed, but Kavanagh is not throwing in the Champions League towel just yet.

“We had watched videos of Ludogorets and thought they were good but when you see them first hand, they are really good players,” said the versatile former Fulham man.

“At 2-0 down we were right in it. In the second-half, Graham Burke came on and made a difference, he was really good.

“But the last goal made it 3-0 and that was tough to take. We just have to turn up tomorrow and see what happens.”

Kavanagh continued: “It’s frustrating for us. I think you saw at 2-0 we had more authority in the game. We had them in their half and played some good stuff.

“But 3-0 is a bigger mountain to climb. Look, all we can do is turn up tomorrow, get a goal early and give it our best. If it’s not enough on the day, it’s not enough.”

Shamrock Rovers could still embark on a European campaign to remember as they target the group stages of one of the competitions.

And like team-mate Richie Towell said last week, Kavanagh insists the Hoops should strive for much more than just qualifying for the groups.

“Hopefully we can go on in Europe until November and even into the New Year. We just want to do as well as we can and prolong our season,” he said.

“You’re coming up against really good opposition and getting a feel for that.

“The more games we play in Europe against better opposition and better players, the better you can become and that’s all you want to do.”

But Kavanagh admits that Saturday’s draw against Drogheda was far from ideal preparation after a below par performance from the league champions.

And to compound matters, top defender Roberto Lopes left Tallaght Stadium on crutches after shipping a knee injury nine minutes into the second-half.

Aidomo Emakhu scored with 11 minutes to go but Evan Weir cancelled that out with three minutes to go, before being sent off two minutes later.

Rovers have a seven-point lead over Dundalk at the top-of-the-table, but Kavanagh said: “It was a bit of a kick in the teeth.

“We go 1-0 up at home, we should see it out. We don’t. To be fair to Drogheda, they were gritty and determined. A good side who are hard to beat.

“At all levels of football you’re going to have an off day or couple of days. But what can you do? That’s football, you can’t be at your best every day.

“You dust yourself off and go again tomorrow.”


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