Among the snoods, masks and bobble hats in Kingswood on Thursday, there was a calmness in the winter air, a sense of men in the workplace, the Shamrock Rovers.
The Extra.ie FAI Cup Media interactions for Bose Stephen Bradley, players, Jack Byrne and Joey O’Brien began at 9.15am on the schedule.
Not that there was any panic. It was not like Rover had a plane to catch or a Europa League tie in Norway like Dundalk.
Instead, the Hoops have a stress-free week to prepare for the FII Cup defense, which is for two festival-goers.
The first is their first league cup double finish since 1987; Second, they became the first Rovers team to go undefeated in the domestic season. Four FSs, Fullam, Farrell, Fagan and Flood, captained the 1925 Invincibles.
All these boxes can be removed in the 100th final
The FII Cup, synonymous with the Rover Sobriquette ‘Cup Kings’, is boosting expectations.
It was a shame that there could not be 30,000 fans or more at Aviva Stadium on Sunday to witness this sporting spectacle.
A year ago, Dantalk was chasing a double, just to punch their balloon to Rovers in the final on penalties. This time the roles are the opposite.
After skipping the team news – Greg Bolger is available, Aaron Green (ankle) should be fine, Neil Farougia (hamstring) should be touched – Dantak’s preparation asked Bradley if Rovers’ hands were playing.
‘No. They will be ready, ‘he replied. ‘Sometimes when you have that schedule as a manager it gives you a great opportunity to try things out, the little details you are looking for. We did it on a few occasions.
‘I think playing games regularly is the way to go. You get a rhythm. ‘
There is a professional respect between the two camps, which Bradley acknowledged.
They have proven to be the best team in the country for the last seven to eight years. You want to play against the best so they definitely do. ‘
Bradley added: ‘This is this year’s showpiece game; These are the top two teams. Last year was a very good game and I think really tight this year is no different. If you look, history tells you, the bigger the game, the better. I think we saw it in last year’s Cup final and AC Milan.
‘The players show up and do them justice (Dandalk), and they did. They show up in big games, on big occasions, and I don’t think there’s a fear that big players won’t show up. ‘
If Bradley is right, he should not rule out the possibility of a fifth penalty after 2010.
In the Cup Finals the captains can be seen rising from the shadows to Rovers’ five full international teams and two U21s, leaving a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of Aaron McNeef in central midfield.
If Byron and Dylan Watts are brilliant, they need someone who can load bullets, and in Bolger’s absence McNeef took on that role. “Aaron’s maturity, all the knowledge and understanding of the game can be seen by everyone since last summer, which has made him mature,” Bradley said.
I’m not saying that lightly, but he’s one of the best all-round midfielders in the country. Sunday is another opportunity to show it. ‘
Media duties were done, and it was time for Bradley and Coe to do some video analysis, Sunday rivals. Rovers’ preparation will not go smoothly. It will make all the difference.