Shamrock Rovers boss Bradley says hat-trick hero Burke was right to be annoyed after being benched in Sligo win


STEPHEN BRADLEY reckons Graham Burke had every right to be annoyed not to start on Monday night.

With Shamrock Rovers below par in the first half against Sligo Rovers, Burke was one of four substitutes sent for the restart – just as he was against Finn Harps on Friday.

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Shamrock Rover’s Graham Burke celebrates his hat trick against Sligo
Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley says they need to keep Burke fit

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Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley says they need to keep Burke fit

And the striker made his point and claimed three for the Hoops with a 15-minute hat-trick in their 3-1 win.

Bradley said: “I’m sure Graham is annoyed that he didn’t start on Monday, his performance on Friday probably justifies that.

But the way you show you should play is to play like that – he won the game for us.

“He was excellent when he arrived, it’s no surprise with his quality. He has real qualities, he’s an Ireland international for a reason.

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Burke missed three games last month with a calf problem and his three appearances since have all been off the bench.

Bradley added: “We just need to get him in shape and keep him in shape and when we do he will be a key player for us.

“We have to be careful with his injury, last year we missed him for too long and we didn’t want that anymore.”

Burke is now likely to start against Derry City in Friday’s clash at Tallaght, with Bradley expecting the top two to clash.

He said: “It will be two good teams, very good players on the pitch for both teams, a very good game and I’m sure both teams will go for it.

“I watched them against UCD, they won four or five but it could have been double that, they were really, really good.

“We know it’s a tough game, but when we play like this second half, we know we’re a handful for anyone.”

Asked if there were any similarities between Derry and Stephen Kenny’s Dundalk team that Candystripes boss Ruaidhrí Higgins played in, Bradley said: “They play slightly differently, the wingers come in.

“Stephen’s wingers have played wide, in transition they are slightly different, Brandon Kavanagh coming in on one side, and Matty Smith on the other, James Akintunde on them.”

Bradley hopes Kavanagh doesn’t come back to haunt his team. He left the Hoops for Derry at the end of the season after spending the last year on loan at Bray Wanderers.

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Bradley — who hopes to have Lee Grace and Danny Mandroiu available on Friday — said: “He’s a really good player, Brandon. If he stays here, he is in competition to play.

“If the players don’t want to stay, you don’t want them there. He’s a very good guy, he has real ability as he’s showing now.

While Kavanagh has left for regular football, Barry Cotter is happy with life at Rovers, despite playing a marginal role this term. Cotter, 23, made a big first impression after signing last August, following his release from Ipswich Town.

This year has been a bit tougher, with Monday his first start since being retired at half-time against the same opponent in March after setting up a goal for Bit O’Red.

The former Limerick player said: “You have ups and downs. The ups are just as much a lesson as the downs and it’s not a lesson unless you learn from them. I’m excited for the future.

“The squad we have this year is amazing and the gaffer literally trusts every player he signs.

“There’s going to be frustration, people coming in and people going out, because he’s signed players who want to play and not everyone can play, it’s healthy competition.

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“When you have your chance you have to take it, so it was a good result on Monday and it showed with our team.

“You see the strength we have off the bench, four guys coming in and we look like a whole new team, so we’re going to bring that on Friday now and hopefully hit Derry.”

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