Ronan Finn hoping for third bite at European cherry

The only survivor of the Hoops’ sole participation in the Europa League back in 2011 repeated it during his time at Dundalk in 2016.
Ronan Finn hoping for third bite at European cherry

EXPERIENCE: Ronan Finn of Shamrock Rovers. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Ronan Finn has more than one incentive for creating history by guiding Shamrock Rovers into the group stages of European competition.

The only survivor of the Hoops’ sole participation in the Europa League back in 2011 repeated it during his time at Dundalk in 2016.

He could make it a hat-trick – in either the Europa of the Conference League – after they sped into the 3-0 lead of the Champions League first qualifying round against Maltese lightweights Hibernians on Tuesday.

Save for a dramatic turnaround in the away leg next Tuesday, Rovers have three shots at progressing to the real business, even the Conference League concept in its infancy.

Six games are guaranteed regardless and should Finn feature in them all, the captain will equal Gary Rogers’ record for a League of Ireland player of 54 European appearances.

“That’s a small thing that you look back on at the end of your career,” Finn said modestly of a streak that began 12 years ago while playing for Sporting Fingal against Portuguese side Maritimo.

“European football is on a different level for delivering moments. These are big, big nights for the club.

“I still remember them fondly from 2011 (when they played Tottenham) so getting back there is the goal. We’ve a long way to go before that but Europe is where you want to be.” On his last deep dive into Europe with Rovers, Finn was a marauding midfielder but he’s been converted to wing-back. Being defensively minded didn’t stop him getting off the European mark at the 48th attempt by firing Rovers ahead at Tallaght.

“I’m delighted to get that goal. It keeps Graham Burke away because he reminds me about it every year. I’m glad to get that over with and hopefully get a few more before I retire.” Stephen Bradley reckons his skipper will match the record set by his former colleague at Dundalk.

The Hoops boss said: “I know Gary Rogers is a few ahead of him at the moment but, all going well, he’ll do it this year.

“That’s a testament to how he lives his life. He’s put his ego to the side when he’s come and said I can play right wing-back.

“Someone with his experience and knowhow and what he has won in the game could have easily thrown his toys out a few years back.

“But we sat down and had a conversation and he puts all that to the side and focuses on playing and being better for the team.”

More in this section

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox