Home > Shamrock Rovers Player Interviews for programme > You really hear the crowd roar

You really hear the crowd roar

Interview with Robert Bayly in Hoops Scene Issue 5

(Shamrock Rovers v Bohemian FC, April 9, 2010)

A little less than twelve months ago, Shamrock Rovers played Bohemians in the first of last season’s four closely contested league matches, two of which Rovers won in dramatic late fashion here in Tallaght Stadium.  If you compare the Rovers line ups from that initial match with tonight’s eagerly awaited contest, it is all change for Rovers and that is even leaving aside the fact Rovers wore the Umbro special edition pink jersey in aid of Action Breast Cancer that night last season.  Only three players from the starting team from that first encounter could start tonight for a variety of reasons.  These include the fact that the Hoops’ deadly duo up front of Gary Twigg and Dessie Baker are injured, former captain Shane Robinson is now playing in Australia and goalkeeper Barry Murphy has crossed to the other side (or should that be dark side!).  The game tonight will see Tallaght Stadium packed to a near 6,000 capacity and should be a cracking atmosphere and occasion in front of RTÉ’s live TV cameras.

Robert Bayly will be looking to make the starting line up for Rovers tonight.  Twelve months ago he was lining out for a club just over a year in existence and in front of no more than 200 fans in the First Division of the League of Ireland for Sporting Fingal as they beat Monaghan United 3-0 in Kingspan Park.  The year was a very successful one for the former Cherry Orchard player who scored the winner for Fingal in their promotion play off and he also claimed a medal as part of their FAI Cup winning team.  The player joined Shamrock Rovers last month and made his Rovers debut as a substitute in Rovers’ first home game of the season against Saint Patrick’s Athletic.  Hoops Scene caught up with the player in the wake of the last home game, a 0-0 draw with UCD, and just ahead of last Monday’s 1-1 draw with Sporting Fingal.  Monday’s game saw Bayly line out against his former club in a blustery Morton Stadium.  And while he enjoyed his football last season with Fingal, he has definitely noticed and enjoyed playing in front of the larger and more vocal Shamrock Rovers crowds.  “There is a big difference with the crowd.    The crowd at Rovers give you a massive lift.”  Rovers fans would not have much affection for the surroundings of Morton Stadium.  While the club’s debut in the Santry venue saw some silverware won, the FAI Super Cup in 1998, Rovers played a couple of seasons there during their nomadic journey to Tallaght on a bumpy and narrow pitch with the fans miles away from the action behind the running track.  The venue is far from ideal and while the surface has improved since Rovers’ tenure, the fans are still a distance away and Fingal attract crowds well below 1,000.  Bayly recognises the drawbacks with the venue compared with playing in Tallaght in front of 4,000 fans and more. “The pitch is far away from the fans and quite narrow but you just get on with it.  With Rovers the difference is unbelievable.  The lift you get especially when you come out onto the pitch.  You can really hear the crowd roar.”

The visiting fans today remember the Morton Stadium venue fondly for an amazing comeback win that Bohemians had at the venue at the expense of Rovers back in 2001.  Bayly remembers a not quite as spectacular comeback last year against Rovers that he was involved in that ultimately led to some silverware.  He was crucial in getting his team at the time back into the FAI Cup quarter final against Shamrock Rovers when they trailed 2-0 at half time.  It was his cross that led to Fingal’s first goal and they went on to equalise and then beat the Hoops back in Tallaght Stadium in the replay.  It wasn’t the only success he was to have in Tallaght as his team went on to ultimately win the trophy back at the Dublin 22 venue in the final in November with a dramatic late win against Sligo Rovers.  “It was a brilliant season and the cup final was an amazing feeling even though the focus was on getting promoted”.  And is his cup final medal pride of place at home?  “Yeah, definitely but hopefully I can add to it this year.”

No doubt it has been a difficult start to the season for Shamrock Rovers who have gathered six points from six games.  Tonight’s game against the league champions will be a good barometer of whether Bayly can add to his medal collection this season.  With the scoreless draw with UCD fresh in his mind, he was seeing that draw as a stepping stone, “we can take the positives out of it, in that we kept a clean.  That is now two clean sheets in a row.  Hopefully that is something we can build on.  It was tough as I thought UCD were able to play around us a bit in the middle”.  He was also thankful for our goalkeeper for some crucial saves, “Alan [Mannus] has done that a couple of times already this season.”

It was with Leeds United that Bayly began his professional career under the management of former England international Dennis Wise.  “Unfortunately as soon as Dennis Wise left, I got injured and I was out for the rest of the year.”  When the new management team of Gary McAllister and Steve Staunton came in with their plans, his face didn’t fit and eventually it was Liam Buckley that brought him back to Ireland to play with Sporting Fingal.  There were possibilities of him going back to England after his successful season with Fingal.  “I was looking to go elsewhere.  We didn’t really talk at end of season.  I went for a couple of trials in England but the option was there for me to sign for Rovers.”  There is also a Rovers family connection with Uncle’s Martin and Ritchie Bayly who both played for the Hoops.  His Uncle Ritchie when he played for Rovers at the age of just 16 back in 1978 became the youngest player ever to play for Rovers in a European fixture.

Coming in a little through pre-season, Bayly had been working on his own to keep his fitness up and has been thankful for the playing in the last five games including starting the last four in a row.  “I had been doing a lot of running and extra training to make up.  I feel fitter as I’m getting more games and improving my match fitness.   Playing a number of games in a row is good for me.”

With Rovers having finally signed Chris Turner it means there is stiff competition for places in midfield but that is okay with Bayly “it keeps everyone on their toes.”  Tonight is a first opportunity for him to play against Bohemians and it is one he is relishing.  The league is beginning to take shape and Rovers need to improve their results to start heading up the table like they did at this stage last season.  “I’m really looking forward to the game and I’m just hoping I can get in the team.”

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