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Glass looking forward with Rovers

Sitting beside Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Kenny in the dug out tonight will be his number two Stephen Glass. Glass answered Kenny’s call when the new Rovers boss came looking for an assistant manager to work alongside him with the Hoops for the 2012 season. The pair worked together when Kenny was in charge of Scottish side Dunfermline.

“I was a player under him so I got to know him,” said Glass when he recently spoke to Hoops Scene, “but that was a player to manager relationship. He saw enough that he thought he could work with me in the future. He knew my character and was willing to bring me on board. When you are working for the biggest club in Ireland, you want to get it right. It is a good sign for me that he wanted to bring me in.”

It was just last season that Glass hung up his playing boots after a lengthy career that began in Scotland and included spells in Premier League with Newcastle and concluded in America. His playing CV includes a couple of trophy wins, an appearance in an FA Cup final at Wembley and an international cap with Scotland. So does the man from Dundee have a career highlight? “The biggest thing I did was winning a trophy with Aberdeen,” said Glass about his man-of-the-match performance in the 1995 Scottish League Cup final. “Anytime you win something it is got to be highlight. We won the championship last year in America and that was a good way to go out.”

The focus at Shamrock Rovers this year is not to sit back on last season’s Airtricity League and Europa League success but build on it and that was an attitude that Glass had during his playing career. “I was never one for looking back and saying that was great,” said the 35 year old. “I just enjoyed doing what I was doing at the time. I had great experiences playing with good players, playing with good clubs and playing in front of a lot of people.”

It was with the Carolina Railhawks in America that Glass ended his playing career on a high. The Railhawks last season won the North American Soccer League (NASL), the level just below Major Soccer League. So how did the move come about to play in the NASL, a league that includes teams from the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico?

“A mate of mine Greg Shields, from when I played at Dunfermline, had gone over to play there. The manager was a Scottish fellow called Martin Rennie. He knew of me and he started asking Greg about me and it escalated from there. I was out of contract and nobody was taking a chance on me. I went over to America for two weeks to get myself fit. The manager kept me in mind over the winter as their season plays the same way as Ireland. I went to Hibs over winter and trained with them to stay fit. I believed I could still play for another year and I managed to it so it was worth it.”

The decision to switch from playing to coaching was an easy one for Glass to make and it is been a decision he is happy he made. “I’m really enjoying it.,” said Glass about his new coaching role. “It was something I was hoping to get into. I was going to retire regardless, it was time. Your body tells you when its time to retire and my body was telling me! I hurt my hip towards the end of my time in America. If I trained on it there was a possibility that I would need an operation. I wasn’t willing to go through that for later life. I already have had three knee operations on each leg, so the wise thing was to stop before any big damage was done. I was waking up sore every morning and grinding through training.

“I got this opportunity to come to Rovers and I couldn’t have hoped for it to go better. It has worked out really well, working with the manager and the other staff that he has brought in.” There were a few familiar faces in the Rovers camp in addition to his former manager Stephen Kenny. “I half knew a few players from before which makes things easier. I played against Gary Twigg in a friendly game and Craig Sives was with Hearts when I was playing with their rivals Hibs. I’m enjoying the work and I’m enjoying the response so far.”

Glass’ time at Rovers has seen him coach a team competing at the top of the league and playing in front of large crowds. Rovers have played in front of close to 5,000 fans at each of the home league games to date including the delayed kick off against Shelbourne due to crowd congestion. Rovers also sold out their 1,000 away ticket allocation in Inchicore last Friday but the less said about that result the better! “For myself it is good to coach at this level in front of big crowds but for the players it is great. When the referee comes in and tells you that the game is going to be delayed five or ten minutes, they know why it is delayed. They know there is a big number coming there to watch them and to be fair it’s a majority of Rovers punters. It isn’t because someone is bringing that big an away support. It is because we are bringing big numbers in and that is home and away from what I’ve seen. We got that 94th minute equaliser (away to Cork City) and it makes that trip a lot more worthwhile for fans. Hopefully the lads will keep giving them plenty more to keep them coming back.”

Rovers have made good progress in the Leinster Senior Cup (against Bohemians) and in the Setanta Sports Cup (against Cliftonville) but have required penalties in both competitions to move on. Kenny and Glass have been utilising the full squad in these competitions plus the EA Sports Cup and this has helped integrate the new players with the full squad. “Sometimes a penalty win, like we had in Belfast, can be great for team spirit and the group. The two penalty shootouts Oscar (Jannson) has done really well and saved a good number of them.”

“All the new lads will be looking to contribute and get accepted by the group and the public in general – to show that they deserve to be a Shamrock Rovers player.
The manager brought in seven or eight players so it is never going to be easy to get that group together. Obviously last season was a great success so by changing the group too much there can be danger there. But we think we’ve got it right with what we’ve brought in. You can see the spirit is there already. Winnings bring spirit, we are growing and getting better.”

Published in Hoops Scene 5 (Shamrock Rovers v Dundalk/Derry City, April 2012)

The Rice Review

Shamrock Rovers will be looking to put Good Friday’s bad league result against St. Patrick’s Athletic behind them as they face into games against Dundalk in the league and Derry in the Setanta Sports Cup. The 5-1 loss in Inchicore to Pats was Rovers’ first domestic defeat in 16 games stretching back to September 2011.

That was the month that Rovers travelled to play Tottenham in the Europa League. It was one of the many great nights that the club had last season alongside the famous win in Belgrade, defeating Dundalk in the Setanta Sports Cup final at Tallaght Stadium and the late drama in winning the league title against UCD in Belfield. Whilst Rovers lost to Spurs 3-1 back in September, the game will be forever remembered at Rovers for Stephen Rice putting his team 1-0 up in the second half. His celebration in front of the 4,000 or so travelling Shamrock Rovers fans was one of the iconic images of 2012 for Rovers fans and the 900,000 or so viewers who watched the match live on TV that night.

Photo by George Kelly

Following last week’s game against Pats, Hoops Scene chatted up with the goalscorer from that night in White Hart Lane and asked him are the great nights in players careers made even better when juxtaposed with low points such as the loss to Pats? “I wouldn’t have thought so,” said Rice. “We all have low points in our careers but when you go through a result like Friday, the important thing is how you react to that. The good nights come because of hard work. We have a great bunch of lads who are willing to work hard and have so much ability. Hopefully we will have more of those great nights this year. They are enjoyable when they come because you know what you’ve put into it, rather than necessarily that you’ve had low nights. The work you’ve done off the pitch and on the pitch is why those nights are good for us as players.”

Rice is a player that plays with his heart on his sleeve and brings a high level of intensity to Rovers’ play on the pitch. What does that mean for him off the pitch when his team suffers a defeat like in Inchicore? “It is not easy,” admitted the 27 year old. “You can’t put football to bed when you go home. When you get a result like that, it effectively ruins your weekend until you have another game. We’ve had a bad result on Friday. It is a blip. We know the manner in which it happened wasn’t acceptable to us as professionals. Pats were fully deserved of their win. Any chance they got, they took but it doesn’t make it any easier for us to swallow. We spoke about it after the game. The most important thing is we learn from it. We have to make sure that is doesn’t happen again and we take what we need to take out of it. The beauty of football is that there is always another game like in Galway on Monday and luckily we have another league game on Friday to put it right and put it right quickly.”

As expected for the EA Sports Cup tie away to SD Galway last Monday, Rovers manager Stephen Kenny made several changes to his starting 11 from the previous game. There were seven changes to the team including a debut for goalkeeper Reyaad Pieterse following confirmation of the South African’s work permit late last month. It was still a very strong Rovers team that included Colin Hawkins coming in to play against the club where he started his career and Conor McCormack getting another chance to play as he returns from injury. Stephen Rice, who captained the team in Ken Oman’s absence, anchored the midfield in a game that Rovers dominated from start to finish. The Hoops won 2-0, progressing to the competition’s quarter final, thanks to Gary McCabe’s two first half penalties.

The management team of Stephen Kenny and Stephen Glass were no doubt working hard in training during the week in keeping the playing squad focussed as they faced three games in eleven days including that game against SD Galway in the EA Sports Cup alongside games against Dundalk and Derry. So how intense has training been this season?

“The sessions are sharp,” said Rice, “and that comes from the manager Stephen and Glassy (Stephen Glass). Glassy is a good coach who he has played at the highest level. He has respect from all the lads. Training is driven by them and by the group of players. They determine how training is, the tempo and standard of it and it has been really good. We are talking about how it is important we keep working as hard in training.”

“There are a lot of games. It just means that everyone is getting games and that is really important when you have a squad the size we have. But the league will always be the priority. The other trophies are very important. Even the EA Sports Cup is important as I haven’t won it and I haven’t won an FAI Cup. They are targets for us as we want to win those things as well.”

Rice is one of the few Rovers players to have work commitments outside of playing with Shamrock Rovers but this work is very much complimentary to his playing career as he is a community football facilitator with the FAI. Previously Rice was President of the Professional Footballers’ Association of Ireland (PFAI) and has done some work as a player ambassador with SEAT last season before the company came on board as Rovers’ main sponsor this year.

With Rovers training in the morning, it enables Rice to work in the afternoon with the FAI and the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council sports team. “I work for the FAI 25 hours a week. It is in communities and schools around the Dundrum area and I also am involved in educating coaches for the Kickstart 1 and 2 courses.” The Kickstart programme course is designed to assist parents and coaches to introduce children from the age of six to football and then to develop their skills up to the age of 12.

This coaching role provides Rice with a break from Rovers whilst still being involved in a professional basis with football. “It is nice to be involved in it as for 10 years all I did and all I played was club football. Sometimes it is nice to have another thing to focus on. The job can come in handy as you have another focus and have other things to concentrate on but football with Rovers is the priority.”

There is still plenty of footballing years ahead for Rice with Rovers but is the coaching role something he will look to do long term? “Yeah, it will be. At the moment, the work is very much community based so you aren’t really working with elite players. Certainly the coaching element is something I am pursuing and hopefully I will be starting my A licence soon.”

Published in Hoops Scene 5 (Shamrock Rovers v Dundalk/Derry City, April 2012)

Glass looks to continue winning start

http://extratime.ie/newsdesk/articles/7595/

Stephen Glass, Shamrock Rovers’ assistant manager, may be new to the Airtricity League but is he fully aware that, whatever the competition, Shamrock Rovers versus Bohemians is a significant fixture.

“I’m definitely aware of that!” said Glass when extratime.ie caught up with him after Friday’s 3-1 win over Monaghan and ahead of Monday’s home Leinster Senior Cup game against Bohs.

“I’m well aware of how many derbies there are and that Bohemians is a big one,” said Glass who played under Stephen Kenny at Dunfermline. “I’m really looking forward to it. Maybe the numbers won’t be as big as tonight in terms of crowd. We got a great backing tonight and I’m sure those that come along on Monday night will do the same and they will be wanting to see a win.”

Winning the Leinster Senior Cup would not be high on the priorities of either club but the thoughts of getting one over on their Dublin rivals will mean that Monday’s game will be a well contested tie. Bohemians knocked Rovers out of this competition last season and they have a rich history in this cup. The Gypsies won the trophy for the first time back in 1895 and have won it a record 31 times.

Shamrock Rovers have the record for league of Ireland titles and Glass will want his club to make it title number 18 this season. Rovers have gained two wins out of two in the league so far but have conceded the first goal in each game.

“We’ve scored a lot of good goals and have come from behind twice,” said Glass, “but obviously if you can prevent going behind you have a greater chance of winning the game. You can’t keep going behind and win games. It does show there is a really great spirit in the group. We have the strength of character to come from behind.”

Last Friday, Monaghan United came to Tallaght with a specific plan to try and contain Rovers’ attacking options.

“It was pretty apparent that they tried to stop our full backs getting forward especially Kerrea Gilbert,” said the Scotsman. “I think if we were cleverer in the first half and more accurate with our passing we could have used it to our advantage. We were better in the second half, moved it better and went ahead. I think we showed enough to win the game.”

It took a moment of brilliance from Killian Brennan for Rovers to score as his audacious back flick volley found the net. “Killian’s goal was a good one,” said Glass. “It was an opportunists goal more than anything else. He has got those flicks in his locker, he’s got good ability and he is always likely to pull something unorthodox out.”