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Price-less

November 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Article for official Shamrock Rovers website on former club captain Aidan Price.

http://www.shamrockrovers.ie/news/35-news/1749-price-less

The news this week that Aidan Price will be playing elsewhere next season means that Shamrock Rovers will be moving on without a player who had been the club’s longest serving member of the current playing squad. It also means that the club will be without a player who straddled the five year period when the Hoops moved from playing out of Tolka Park as a home venue in the First Division to the Tallaght era and winning the League of Ireland title. With that in mind, it is fitting that http://www.shamrockrovers.ie looks back at Aidan Price’s five year career with the Hoops.

In the 2006 season, Pat Scully was the new manager at Shamrock Rovers. Scully brought Aidan Price with him from Kilkenny City and installed him as captain of the Hoops. It was a difficult time for Rovers who were had emerged from Examinership the previous season and Scully had to assemble a squad on a limited budget. Price was instrumental in winning the First Division title that season allowing Rovers to get back to top flight football at the earliest opportunity. He was able to lift the trophy as captain in the final league game and went on to win the Shamrock Rovers Player of the Year that season.

The Tallaght native knows what it means to play for Rovers and what Rovers means to its fans. As he told the Evening Herald in July this year “Initially when I signed up I was told how much of a family club it is and how much it means to people,” he recalls. “I was told you don’t experience it until you’re in there but it’s true. As soon as we signed up we had untold amounts of people travelling to places like Cobh to watch us play First Division football. They showed their support for the club, how much it meant to them and how much they wanted us to succeed. We were such a young team then and to succeed that year was brilliant. I remember the last game of the season was down in Cobh and there were men of 70 years of age crying just to see the club getting back to where it should be with the right people looking after it. People who had the club at heart. That was incredible.”

His words about the emotion of Rovers fans seeing the club being back where they belong were echoed in the conclusion of this 2010 season which turned out to be Price’s last at the club. In the intervening years, Price would be a key member of the Shamrock Rovers squad. His 2007 season was limited to just nine league appearances due to a metatarsal injury. In the following seasons, Price had to bide his time before getting into the team where solid centre back pairings had been formed by Barry Ferguson/ Darragh Maguire (2008), Maguire/Craig Sives (2009) and Sives/Dan Murray (2010). However whenever Price played he always gave it the very best that he had and over the five years in the club he made 146 league appearances. Price managed to score one league goal and one FAI Cup goal during his time with the Hoops. Both goals were scored against Sligo Rovers and both in Tolka Park. No surprise that his first goal was from a corner, as he trotted up for virtually every corner the Hoops had. The surprise was that it took nearly three years for that first goal to arrive. His second goal was a diving header in the 2009 season when the match against Sligo Rovers was controversially moved to Tolka Park ahead of the Real Madrid friendly game. But it was his defensive performances that will live long in the memory.

In August this year, Price’s strong performances in the League of Ireland and in Europa League action against Juventus, saw him pick up the league’s Player of the Month award. His strong performances were juxtaposed in October with one performance, or more particularly, one mistake that nearly cost Rovers the league. In what could have been a season defining moment, it was a mistake by Price in the final minutes against Sporting Fingal that seemed to end Rovers’ title hopes. With Rovers leading one nil with three minutes to go and all the home fans in the stadium looking for Price to clear the ball out of the stadium when facing his own goalkeeper, Price’s delay allowed Gary O’Neill to poach an unlikely equaliser. Seconds later, Fingal got a second and it seemed the league title was lost. It would have been a shame if those last few minutes against Fingal would have prevented Price claiming a league winners medal. It is testament to the fortitude of the Rovers squad, and Price in particular after his mistake, that they managed to pick themselves up after that incredible disappointment and win the title by getting the required four points from the last two games. As Jason Maloney wrote in the Hoops Scene the Rovers match day programme this year, the player was not without his critics but nobody could fault his effort. “While he may have taken a lot of criticism (most of it unjust) from certain sections of our support in his time at the club, he has always shown great character and fought back with solid defensive displays. He deserves immense kudos for the way he fights his way back after setbacks.”

When the news of his departure emerged this week, it was clear the level of affection that the Shamrock Rovers fans have for Price. The SRFC Ultras website (www.srfcforum.net) had a thread several pages in length with fans thanking Price for his contribution to the club and many were disappointed with the news. Talking to another Hoops Scene contributor Justin Mason, he makes the point about the unique position Price will always have at the club. “He was a great servant to Shamrock Rovers. During his time here, he captained the club for three seasons, winning player of the year in 2006. Most importantly, he uniquely won the First Division title with the club in his first season and the League of Ireland title with the club in his last season.”

The final word goes to the player himself who was interviewed in autumn for the Rovers programme. Price at the time spoke of that First Division title win and the hope of picking up the League title come end of the 2010 season. He also spoke of the journey the club had made during his time at Rovers and the valuable contribution made by others including players who, like Price now, have moved on from the club. “Winning the First Division was brilliant and I’m grateful that I experienced that. But the club wanted to get back to where we are now. You don’t forget that or forget how hard people worked to make it happen; people within the club and the players who have been and gone. We want to be winning stuff. That is the way it should be at Rovers. This is how big the club is, the biggest in the country, with the biggest support. We need to be winning trophies and that is what we aim to do. We want to sustain this challenge and show the drive and determination to stay at the top. It is important for us to get that first trophy as a group. Hopefully we can do that this year.” Thankfully his request came to fruition and Price ended his career at Rovers with that League trophy. Everyone here at Shamrock Rovers wishes him the very best in the rest of his career. Thanks Aido!

The Price of Success

August 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Interview with Aidan Price from Hoops Scene v Bray Wanderers 20 August 2010

Shamrock Rovers gained their sixth league win in the last seven games with their 2-0 win over Drogheda United last Friday night. It was also the fourth clean sheet in the last five games which is very satisfying from a defensive point of view. Aidan Price has been instrumental in those fine defensive performances this season and Hoops Scene chatted to the defender after last Friday’s win. It was a win which saw Rovers go three points clear at the top of the table as both St. Patrick’s Athletic and Bohemians tasted defeat that same night.

“It was good to get the result,” said Price. “What made it better was we would have been disappointed if we had dropped points against Drogheda looking at the other results after the game. It just goes to show that one weekend of football can change it so much. But of course we just have to look after ourselves and there are still a lot of games to go. The clean sheet was nice. We had some good chances in the first half but we just didn’t take them. We had to be patient during the game. We were much better in the second half when we upped the tempo. We took them on and we threatened them a bit more. Drogheda sat back and invited us to play. We tried to do the right thing and keep believing. We knew if we created enough chances and in the right areas, we would get goals so we kept going. We took our chances and kept a clean sheet. We have scored some really good goals recently through the team. That is important and I think we showed that again the other night.”

As the season builds up to its climax, it means lots of games for Shamrock Rovers and by the end of August the Hoops will have played five Airtricity League games, a Europa League qualifier, an EA Sports semi final, an FAI Ford Cup fourth round match and a couple of reserve team matches against Manchester United and Arsenal. The games in August to date have certainly been memorable and in the league there was the satisfaction of the 3-0 win in the Dublin Derby over League Champions Bohemians. It was the biggest win over rivals Bohemians that Price has been involved with in his five years with the Hoops. “It was good. We started the game really well and pressed them high up the pitch. We got a goal and that settled us down. We know we are comfortable when teams have the ball against us as we can keep a good shape. We have pace in the team that we can counter attack with and that is what we did really well that day. When we went down to 10 men we knew we were capable of keeping our shape. If that is what is needed to be done for 15 or 20 minutes, we know we are not out of our depth. We are more than capable and can frustrate the opposition team. That is what we did, we frustrated Bohs in the second half when they were committing more people forward trying to get the equaliser.
http://www.shamrockrovers.ie/multimedia/category/424-v-bohs-080810 (Bobby Best) We picked them off and took chances at important times and this set us up for the last 10 minutes when we got the third goal.”


http://www.shamrockrovers.ie/multimedia/category/423-v-juventus-050810 (George Kelly)

The game against Bohemians came a couple of days after the memorable away match with Juventus in Italy. Price agrees that the European games against Ben Yehuda and Juventus were a help to Rovers as during those games the opposition had plenty of possession and Rovers needed to keep their shape and remain disciplined. He went on to state that despite the travel arrangements, Rovers were always going to be up for a game against Bohemians. “I think those European games set us up well for the Bohs game. I think a lot of people didn’t expect we would win as they thought we had done so much travelling. I didn’t collect my car from the stadium until a quarter to six on the Friday morning. You are playing Bohs at the end of the day and it goes out the window how you feel. You know you are going to have a tough game and you know you need to be on top of your game. Fortunately at the moment we are playing well, playing with confidence and have belief in ourselves.”

While Rovers exited Europe against Juventus, they gained a lot of confidence in their 3-0 aggregate defeat. It was a respectable result against one of the biggest clubs in world football and Rovers received due respect from Juventus. In the away leg, it took a moment of genius from Italian football legend Alessandro Del Piero to separate the teams in monsoon conditions in Modena. “When we got to the ground before the game it was fine. But when we were in the dressing room, you could hear the absolute torrential rain coming down. At the start of the game I remember Ricer [Stephen Rice] sliding into a puddle in the corner and he came out swimming! I was thinking the referee might stop it then but in the second half it was much better. They worked at half time to get the heavy rain off the pitch. I think the rain probably helped us a little bit as well. It allowed us play a little bit tighter to them. We started the game really well over there. We got some crosses into the box. We got some corners and we got into the game. We had the freedom to go and play as we had nothing to lose being 2-0 down. We just went out to play the game. It took an unbelievable goal by Del Piero to decide the game. I didn’t think it was that far out until I saw it again. The lads on the bench were saying it was in line with the dugout! After all the hard work we had done it would have been nice to get a goal and win the game over there. It would have been an unbelievable feeling. That’s the way it goes. The Juventus players were brilliant and were absolute gentlemen after the game. That is the way it should be. Their club will be remembered for that. It would be nice all right if they got to the Europa League final in Dublin.”

Tonight it is Bray Wanderers who visit Tallaght Stadium. It is a Bray side, back under the management of Pat Devlin, who helped Rovers last week when they defeated St. Pats knocking them off the top of the league. Last year, Bray won their first ever visit to Tallaght. Just as there was no complacency by Rovers when visiting second from bottom Drogheda last week, Price knows the Hoops will mean business tonight against bottom side Bray. “You can’t just turn up for the big games, people get up for them games easily. You need to be up for all the games, the games against Bray or like Drogheda away where people may have felt we would slip up there. Last week’s win by Bray shows they are capable of results. It is one more game we need to win and it is a game we have to win. If you are not on top of your game and keep to your standards, you can struggle. Everybody wants to beat us and people up their game when they come to play us. We have to make sure that we start games properly and if we don’t score early we stay patient and stay with what we believe in. We feel we will get goals.”

Manager Michael O’Neill has used his strong squad throughout the season, resting players at times and insisting players give their best in every appearance in the green and white hooped jersey. “That is what the manager has told us. I got back into the team down in Sligo. I want to stay in the team, I don’t want to be left out of the team. I want to make sure I’m the best I can be and play as well as I can to make sure I stay in the team. I want to play every game I can and help the team do as well as we can.” O’Neill will use the opportunity of this week’s matches against the reserves of Manchester United and Arsenal to ensure certain members of his first team squad get some game time. Last Sunday against Manchester United, alongside players from Andy Myler’s A squad, O’Neill handed starts to new singings Patrick Jennings and Neil Fenn plus a guest appearance to Northern Ireland international Keith Gillespie. This Sunday it will be the chance for the reserve players at Arsenal to play against Rovers in Tallaght. “The team will be some of the lads who haven’t had a lot of football of late,” remarked Price adding, “we have so many games coming up everyone needs to be as fit as possible so if they come back into the team they are ready to go.”
28 year old Price is the longest serving member of the current Shamrock Rovers playing squad and he captained the side in 2006 when the Hoops won the First Division title.


http://www.shamrockrovers.ie/multimedia/category/154-v-_cobh_18_11_2006

He has been on the journey which saw Rovers come from the First Division to finish runners up last year earning the right to play in Europe against Juventus and it leaves him hungry for more. “Absolutely. That is why the games against Drogheda and Bray are so important. You want to get into Europe to experience stuff like that but you have to win those games to get there. We have an awful lot of football to be played before the end of the season. We don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves. We are concentrating on winning the next game and that is the main focus. As soon as you start getting ahead of yourself, football comes back at you and can bring you back down to the ground. Every game is vital for us to achieve what we want to achieve.”

Price remembers the games in the First Division away to Cobh Ramblers, Monaghan United and Kilkenny City (where he started his career) and home to teams like UCD in front of crowds of 500. He remembers the battle to get out of the First Division at the first attempt and now he is part of a team playing in front of the largest crowds in the League. He has got the experience of playing Juve and challenging for the league two years in a row. “It is hard to believe. Winning the First Division was brilliant and I’m grateful that I experienced that as well. But the club wanted to get back to where we are now. It wants to be challenging for leagues, wants to be challenging for everything. It makes you appreciate the small things a lot more. You don’t forget that or forget how hard people worked to make it happen. People within the club and the players who have been and gone and the players that are here now working hard to make sure we are as good as we can be. We want to achieve as much as we can. Small steps are being made consistently along the way. Things are being done the right way. The manager coming in has been brilliant in terms of his winning mentality. He wants us to win, he wants us to win a trophy. That is what we need. That is what we want to be doing at the end of the season. We want to be doing that in October and November and we want to be winning stuff. That is the way it should be at Rovers. This is how big the club is, the biggest in the country with the biggest support. We need to be winning trophies and that is what we aim to do. We want to sustain this challenge and show the drive and determination to stay at the top. It is important for us to get that first trophy as a group. Hopefully we can do that this year.”