Conor Kearns: “We have thrived on being hungry and having a point to prove”

The leaders Shelbourne make the trip west to face Galway United this Friday night in the League of Ireland Premier Division. 

Damien Duff has a fully fit squad to choose from as the Reds look to get back to winning ways after suffering a first defeat of the season last Friday night.

Goalkeeper Conor Kearns spoke to after training on Thursday and he says the spirits in the squad are high:

“Spirits are still high despite last week’s disappointing result and performance. It’s a mark of a good team to address issues and move forward. 

“In a weird way I think this setback has given us extra motivation to set things right. This team as long as I’ve been here we have thrived on being hungry and having a point to prove. The last game has certainly shown that we have something to prove.”

Leaving Tolka last Friday night the parting words ringing in the player’s ears from the manager was to park the defeat over the weekend and bounce into training on Monday morning with energy and enthusiasm, something Kearns feels the players did:

“Yeah, when the manager lays down things as honestly as that, you have to take it on board. In the 24-36 hours after, you can let the results sting. Joey made a good point that some people may tell you not to let defeats bother you, but it should bother you. Let it for a day or two and then use it. It’s all about the reaction. We’ve had a great week of training and bounced into Monday, good days training then on Tuesday and today and we’re ready to go for Friday.”

John Caulfield’s Galway United begin the night in 8th place having taken 11 points from 9 games. Kearns feels his old side should have more points on the board and have been unlucky to come out on the wrong side of some tight results:

“They should have more points; even looking back at our game, 1-0 last month, they probably felt they could’ve come away with something. They’ve adapted to the Premier Division as well as any newly promoted team I’ve ever seen. Everyone knows the way they play— incredibly hard-working, they don’t give anything easily. We’re going to have to work hard. You need to be at your best to get a win there, we know that. We’ve shown we can win, but we’ve also learned that it’s not going to come easy.”

Reflecting on Shels first defeat of the season, Kearns said: “There were certain aspects that were good; we did dominate the ball for a long time. 

“With the progression of this team, we’ve moved past patting ourselves on the back if we play well but don’t pick up three points. Harsh lessons are learned in this league; that was true last Friday night, we handed the team in the lead and gave up a soft goal from our perspective. The important thing is that we learn from these lessons. We can’t afford soft moments; we have to be ruthless and relentless. While we showed quality at times, we need to bring it in greater abundance than last week.”

Shels will face into the game without any travelling support, having been sanctioned by the FAI for the actions of a single individual who threw an object onto the pitch, striking one of the match officials. Kearns says the lack of support will in no way diminish the duty they feel while representing the Reds:

“The supporter-player relationship has been vital; we feed off each other. They don’t cheer if they don’t have something to shout about. The people who put their hands in their pockets are still relying on us to make their Fridays enjoyable. 

“The fact that they can’t be there doesn’t change that, yeah the atmosphere will suffer, but the responsibility we feel remains. They’re still watching us, they’ll be at the bar in Tolka cheering us on, so it’s just as crucial to bring home three points now more than ever, as a debt of gratitude.

“We can’t be too fearful of not playing in front of our supporters. We hope that nothing like what we saw in Drogheda ever happens again in this league, but it’s not just Shels, it’s a league-wide issue. Unfortunately the last few weeks have shown us, anything can happen, closures, fan bans, it’s something we sadly have to deal with.”

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