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Roddy relished his Rovers return

http://extratime.ie/newsdesk/articles/7590/

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.”

Shamrock Rovers 3 – 1 Monaghan United (match report)

http://extratime.ie/newsdesk/articles/7576/

Shamrock Rovers were made to work hard for their victory in Tallaght on Friday night, trailing at half time to Willo McDonagh’s early goal for Monaghan United. However, three second half goals from Killian Brennan, Billy Dennehy and Aaron Green were the difference on the night for the league champions.

Monaghan manager Roddy Collins, on his return to face his former side, won’t have been too happy with his team’s second half performance where they were not helped by the
fact that they played the last twenty minutes with ten men.

The champions flag had barely been raised at Tallaght Stadium, with it being the first home league game of the season, before the Hoops were 1-0 down in the game. After just three minutes Monaghan United won a free kick which was floated in by Darragh Reynor. Willo McDonagh, the former Shamrock Rovers player, got on the end of it and his flicked
backwards header found the top left corner of the net for the opening goal.

Monaghan didn’t just sit back on their lead and threatened the Rovers goal sporadically during the first half. Owen Humphreys played most of the half pushed right onto the Rovers right back Kerrea Gilbert, which created a hole in the middle for Monaghan’s midfield runners to try and exploit. This tactic went someway to preventing Gilbert going on the offensive. Gilbert was able to link up with Killian Brennan occasionally down the right wing but there wasn’t enough end product for strikers Gary O’Neill and Gary Twigg to capitalise on.

As early as the 18th minute, there was a Monaghan booking due to a spot of time wasting. Mons ‘keeper Chris Bennion stepped away from a free kick well outside his area to allow Darragh Reynor to take it but referee George Kelly ran out of patience and produced the yellow card for Reynor when maybe it was Bennion that should have been booked. It was a decision would have an influence on proceedings later in the game.

Monaghan forced the Rovers defence into conceding a number of first half corners with Craig Sives and Conor Powell having to clear their lines. However, poor deliveries meant United couldn’t add to their first half lead.

On the half hour mark Rovers had two great chances to get the equaliser. Killian Brennan’s shot seemed destined for the top left hand corner of the goal but the midfielder’s effort was pushed around the post by the head of Alan Byrne. The Monaghan captain then almost turned villain straight afterwards as his slip presented the ball at Gary Twigg’s lethal feet. However, Twigg’s curling left foot shot flew just by the left hand post for a goal kick.

Monaghan’s Tony Griffiths had the first chance of the second half but his tame shot on 47 minutes was gathered by Oscar Jannson in the Rovers goal before Stephen Kenny’s men came very close to scoring a minute later. Billy Dennehy won a corner off Stephen Maher and, as Killian Brennan swung it in, Craig Sives downwards header was cleared off the line by Maher.

It was from the next corner on 55 minutes though that Rovers got the equaliser. Billy Dennehy swung the ball in towards Brennan who was running away from goal. To the delight of the home fans his back heeled volley found the back of the net.

On 64 minutes Rovers were in front. After a nice passing move, Stephen Rice fed Dennehy the ball 25 yards from goal. The Kerryman took a touch and then let fly with a stunning strike to find the top left hand corner of the goal. Now behind in the game, Monaghan soon found themselves reduced to ten men. Reynor went in with a heavy challenge on Stephen Rice and received his second card from referee Graham Kelly and was off.

Ronan Finn really should have scored for the home side after 75 minutes when Twigg played him in on goal. However, Bennion was able to save Finn’s low shot with his feet. Rovers then began to exploit the space available to them due to the sending off. Another fine passing move came to Billy Dennehy on the wing and his cross was met by Brennan, but the cross bar prevented Rovers getting a third at that time.

Twigg next went close following a build up involving Turner and O’Neill but the Scotsman couldn’t keep his shot down. Aaron Green, a late second half substitute, wrapped it up
for the Hoops in injury time, getting on the end of Gary McCabe’s through ball to make it 3-1 with virtually the last kick of game.

Shamrock Rovers: Oscar Jansson; Kerrea Gilbert (Chris Turner, 68), Ken Oman (c), Craig Sives, Conor Powell; Billy Dennehy, Stephen Rice, Ronan Finn, Killian Brennan (Gary McCabe, 87); Gary Twigg, Gary O’Neill (Aaron Greene, 85).
Subs not used: Lee Steacy (GK), Graham Gartland, Stephen O’Donnell, Daryl Kavanagh.
Bookings: Powell (52), Dennehy (66).

Monaghan United: Chris Bennion; Stephen Maher, Conor McMahon, Alan Byrne (c), Darragh Reynor; Michael Isichei (Conor Murphy, 60), Willo McDonagh, Keith Quinn, Jordan Keegan; Tony Griffiths (Jason Marks, 65), Owen Humphrey (Daniel McGuinness, 46).
Subs not used: Michael Schlingermann (GK), Roddy Collins, Bobby Ryan, Shane Dunne.
Bookings: Reynor (19), Willo McDonagh (40), Keith Quinn (65).
Sendings Off: Reynor (71)

Referee: Graham Kelly
Attendance: 3,100
Extratime.ie man of the match: Killian Brennan