“We want this to become a regular for this club and we want to keep building”

It’s been 11 years since Shamrock Rovers’ long-awaited return to the group stages in a European competition, and Stephen Bradley is adamant that the Hoops can build on their lead this time around and become more accustomed to competing at this level.

This current incarnation of Rovers has already outperformed their 2011 counterparts in one respect. Last week’s credible draw at home to Djurgardens saw them secure their first-ever point in the European group stage. The feat even eluded the backers of Michael O’Neill, who found themselves in a tough group with Rubin Kazan, PAOK and Tottenham, with the English side simultaneously failing to advance as a testament to the level of stiff competition that year.

The Irish club will be hoping to make more history tomorrow night, although it is a tough request.

They face the gent, the best seeds in the group. The Belgians qualified for the group stage of the Europa League last year and reached the last 32 of the same competition the previous season.

On top of that, the Irish team’s European record this season looks considerably better when you consider the Tallaght Stadium matches (played five, won four, drawn one) compared to on the road – their home goals total for Ludogorets and Frinkavaros are 7-0 against, while they drew 0. -0 with Hibernians Malta and achieved their only victory over Macedonia’s Shkobi team to complete their 5-2 win on aggregate.

How does the Ghent compare with the previous tax opponents they faced in Europe?

“They are top in this group so they are a good team, the league they play in domestically is a very good league so we know they are a good team. But we saw that with Ludogorets and Frinkvarros, what we played, they were a high level opposition. Sure, you won’t feel it until tomorrow, but we know they are a good team with real quality.”

The Belgians have made steady progress over the years without spending too much money, while Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne is among the famous names they have helped develop, spending six years as a youth there.

Will the rovers ultimately look to emulate the kind of progressive success that Gent has had in recent times, as evidenced by their impressive results in Europe?

“It’s a club that has been very, very good in the last few years in Europe,” Bradley says. “You just see the level they’ve played. We’re in the group stage this year. The last time we were in the group stage was a long time ago and we don’t want that to be the case again. We want this to become a regular thing for this club and we want to keep building and making the club bigger and stronger – Everyone is working hard to do that, the board, the players, the coaching staff, the fans. I think we’re on the right track but we need to keep working to make sure this is a regular event for us and we play in stadiums like this in games like this every year. This should be Our goal “.

Bradley himself is an admirer of the strides that have been made in Belgian football, particularly at youth level, over the past decade, which have ultimately led to the production of a number of international stars and a fantastic national team who are regularly voted as among the favorites to win the title. A major tournament.

“Some different teams, different ideas across Europe, Belgium were more understanding of how they train their young players and the way they build around that, and the national teams were the teams I was seeing when I was starting to train but not just based on this coach, just the ideas The different you pick up along the way, try to shape it to fit your group of players and your beliefs.It was just something I loved since I was young and we just try to add it every week and every year as you pick different teams around the world to take bits.

“It was fun, you had 12-year-olds playing with 16-year-olds. I think England and Ireland are catching up to that now in terms of the dynamic range and players playing not in age groups but in their physical development. Belgium has been doing that since A long time so it was really interesting to see it. Then the technical and tactical aspect of how they trained was really interesting. I’ve always enjoyed seeing different types of methodology and play and I found Belgium very interesting.”

Gary O’Neill has been an important player in the European Hobbs race, completing 90 minutes in the heart of midfield alongside Chris McCann in the group opener last week.

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The former UCD player was up for media assignments with Bradley at the pre-match press conference and explained how he was looking forward to the challenge of making a comeback in Europe.

“It’s just excitement, to be honest with you. I was in a room with Ronan Finn last night we were talking about it, it feels more comfortable this time when it’s not [attempting to] Qualified for the European League. You have to change it from the first leg or take the lead or whatever, [whereas] It feels more relaxed [in the group stages].

“But I think we showed last week that we would be able to compete in this group. It’s not something I want to go into and say is a bonus. [by simply qualifying]. “

The 27-year-old also played down concerns surrounding the Rovers’ away level in Europe and how it contrasts with his impressive performances at Tallaght, as they look to pull off a big upset against Hein Vanheisbrück’s side.

“I don’t have any real ideas about that, really. We’ve been performing really well at home over the past 12 months whether it’s in the Champions League, Europa League, Conference League or domestically, our home performance has been fantastic. We formed away against us in Europe, but it’s not something we are concerned about.”