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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Paul O'Hehir

Stephen Bradley turns attentions to domestic matters following heavy Euro defeat

Stephen Bradley made no apologies for thinking of the ‘bigger picture’ as Shamrock Rovers were left flat on their back in Norway.

For the second away game running, the Hoops lost 3-0 and are bottom of their Europa Conference League group.

But Bradley insisted he had to prioritise this Sunday’s dublin derby against Shelbourne as the reigning champions look to reclaim their league crown.

READ MORE: Shamrock Rovers dealt heavy Conference League defeat by dominant Molde side

Molde are in a similar boat but while Rovers have a five-point cushion over Derry City, they have the luxury of a 15-point lead over Bode/Glimt with six games to go.

Bradley said: “You would love to be in the position that Molde are in.

“They were thinking very similar to us up until recently but now they know that they’re just there, they can really go all out in the group.

“But we need to work to get to that stage.

“We’re in the groups and that’s exactly where we want to be but we need to make sure that we're here again next year and the year after.

“Then you can really start to build towards having a right go in both.”

And Bradley continued: “I understand that people who don't watch the league every week will tune in and see a 3-0 and will have their opinion on it.

“I understand that, but I have to think of the bigger picture and from speaking to their club and their manager, they were very similar until recently.”

Bradley left Jack Byrne on the bench and the likes of Graham Burke, Rory Gaffney and Dylan Watts were only introduced at various stages of the second-half.

Aidomo Emakhu started in attack but the young striker was forced off with an ankle injury that will rule him out of the Shelbourne clash.

Asked if Sunday was clearly in his thinking when naming his starting XI in Molde, Bradley said: “I think we have to.

“We have to understand that we're in a brilliant position and we want to be here and we want to be competitive.

“But we also have to understand that winning our domestic league is our priority.

“We're not making any excuses, I trust everyone in the group, but we definitely made changes with Sunday in mind.”

Hoops ace Sean Kavanagh insists Rovers can still have a hand to play in the group with home games against Molde and Gent to come, before going to Djurgardens.

But Kavanagh also stressed that Sunday’s clash with Shelbourne takes centre stage.

Kavanagh said: “To get these European nights, you have to win the league and that's why Sunday is the priority for us.

“Hopefully we put in a better performance on Sunday and win the game.

“You have seen over the course of this European run that the home games have been a lot different to the away games.

“Hopefully we can stay involved in the group because we feel we can win the games, especially with two at home and you never know what could happen in Djurgardens.

“But we'll focus on Sunday first.”

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