Bradley tar­gets cup win as vi­tal ‘step­ping stone’

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - SPORTS - EM­MET MALONE

Stephen Bradley sees a win in to­day’s fi­nal for Sham­rock Rovers as an im­por­tant step­ping stone to greater things.

“I’ve made no se­cret that our next thing was to win some­thing as a group,” says the 32-year-old, who won pretty much ev­ery­thing in the Ir­ish game bar this com­pe­ti­tion dur­ing his own play­ing days.

“When we sat down to set our tar­gets it was to beat the top teams and go on cer­tain runs. We’ve done that and our next one is to win some­thing as a group. I be­lieve it grows the group very, very quickly.

“Stephen [Kenny] showed that by win­ning this [in 2014 with Dun­dalk] and I think it showed with Cork last year win­ning the FAI Cup.

“It grows a be­lief within the squad, within the whole clubs, that you can go and win things as a group. The sooner we can do that the bet­ter. Satur­day is our first op­por­tu­nity.”

But Dun­dalk mid­fielder Rob­bie Ben­son be­lieves he and his team-mates are back play­ing at their best level now.

“We’re not just win­ning games at the minute, we’re re­ally win­ning by two, three four goals. It’s def­i­nitely the best we’ve played and hope­fully we can keep it go­ing.”

Dun­dalk are with­out Dy­lan Con­nolly while Dane Massey (knee) and Tommy Ste­wart (hip) face late fit­ness tests.

Rovers, who an­nounced a com­mit­ment of ¤180,000 from the FAI yes­ter­day to­wards their academy, have Lee Grace cup-tied and Gra­ham Burke out in­jured but Gary Shaw, Luke Byrne and Sean Boyd are all ex­pected to be avail­able.

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