Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley has praised the club for their faith and patience in him and his staff following their SSE Airtricity League title success.
Rovers clinched their record-extending 18th League of Ireland crown without having kicked a ball in over three weeks as arch-rivals Bohemians, second to them in the table, lost 2-0 at home to Finn Harps last Saturday night.
Having served several months in interim charge following Pat Fenlon’s departure from the club, Bradley was formally appointed Head Coach in November 2016.
But by his second full season in charge the 35-year-old Dubliner came under pressure from fans and some pundits, in particular following a 5-2 home to defeat to Dundalk who were en route to a second double under Stephen Kenny.
The Hoops were due to be presented with the championship trophy after the game with Derry City at Tallaght Stadium.
But confirmation of the game being off finally came through officially this evening due to an outbreak of Covid-19 in the Derry City camp.
“They did and they deserve massive credit for that,” said Bradley of the board’s trust in his ‘project’.
“I think what helped us from the time we sat down at the start with the board, was we were very clear with our plans and where we wanted to go, and we gave a timeline of what we felt was realistic.
“When you look at how dominant Dundalk were, Cork also at the time, but especially Dundalk, it was always going to take us time.
“We were fighting for fourth at the time. It was always going to take us time to get there.
“Through the rough patches it was really important that when we met the board there was never any talk other than where do we go for next year, what do we need for next year?
“When you have that as a manager it helps you so much because you have so much clarity in how you think and you don’t get swayed by fixing things for tomorrow.
“You fix them for the long term and you stay true to the vision and what you’ve seen.
“You can only do that with the right backing and that’s really important.
“Although we all have pressure, and knew at the start when we were dropping points or losing games that we shouldn't and we needed to improve, I never felt unbelievable pressure from the board.
“For me that was really important.” And Bradley added that the criticism he received personally comes with the territory.
“I expected to get, not what I got, but you expect to get certain things said and pressure from all avenues,” said Bradley.
“And that’s fine when you are in this job and you are manager of Shamrock Rovers.
“You have to accept that that’s the way it is. When things aren’t going right and you are not winning, even though we were a million miles from that at the start, you have to accept the pressure is there and people are looking to knock you. I understood that when I came in.
“It helped us. It gave us energy. It gave me energy and gave me more desire to go and do what we needed to do.