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Roddy relished his Rovers return


It wasn’t exactly the result Roddy Collins wanted from the match against champions Shamrock Rovers on Friday night. However, speaking to extratime.ie after his team’s 3-1 defeat, it is clear how thrilled Collins is to be back where he feels he belongs and is relishing the challenge that faces him and his club Monaghan United.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” said Collins about being involved again in top flight Irish football. “I’m so happy, it is brilliant. I’m loving it and loving the players I have around me. I’m loving people saying that Monaghan will be the whipping boys.”

Following their 0-0 draw in their first league game of the season at home to Dundalk, it was a daunting trip for United to Tallaght Stadium on Friday, especially shorn of some influential players due to injuries to players such as Robert Bayly. It was a Rovers return for Collins who managed the Hoops in 2005, the season the club was relegated. In his team back then and on Friday night was Willo McDonagh who put Monaghan in the lead after only three minutes.

“It was great for Willo as he played here with me,” said Collins, “but we weren’t just thinking about coming back to Rovers. It was just good to play here as it’s a good arena and good atmosphere for the lads to play in.”

And what kind of reception did he get from the home crowd? “The more abuse you get, the warmer welcome!” joked Collins. “I’ve a great rapport with the Rovers supporters. Whatever comes from the terraces, they’ll have the craic. There is no ill intent from me. They know it is a bit of entertainment. It is only a game of football. If they get entertained slagging me, then so be it.”

Monaghan set out to try and frustrate Shamrock Rovers, who began the season with a 2-1 win the previous week against Drogheda United. Collins deployed a specific system to try and nullify Rovers’ attacking options.

“We had a go with two left wingers because I watched them last week against Drogheda and they destroyed Drogheda down that side. So it was vitally important to keep their right back (Kerrea) Gilbert defending.

“That allowed their centre halves to have the ball and they were always going to lump it long to Billy Dennehy. They didn’t have the balance to pass it through midfield and we stopped them four or five times. That was the plan.

“But they have the players to change it and we didn’t. We got away with it until the kid (Owen Humphrey) got injured and then the plan changed and it was a wing and prayer then.”

Three second half goals from Rovers meant Monaghan would go home empty handed from Tallaght and now have one point out of a possible six available to them in the league. So what are Collins’ expectations for the season?

“Stay in the league. If we can get one point more than the last team, we are guaranteed a play off and we are good at play offs. That is all.”

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