LISTEN: Pike Rovers manager Mick Shiel speaks to Sporting Limerick ahead of FAI Junior Cup final.
“Yeah look it’s grand (the mood in the camp). We just trained there. We have been a little bit leggy over the last few weeks because we probably lost a little bit of focus and haven’t been able to train. I always find that very difficult as that’s a big part of what I try to do.”
Shiels was referring to the hectic schedule his side have faced over the last few weeks due to their progression in both national competitions and the Munster Junior Cup. As a result, Pike are an average of six games behind opposition teams in the Limerick District League and we are in May. Shiel has been frustrated with the lack of opportunity to train.
“You’ve been going from Sunday to Thursday to Sunday to Tuesday. You’re asking fellas to do things and they are making mistakes and you can’t work on them. You’re just pointing it out to them and it doesn’t really work the way I manage so its been a messy few weeks but we are back to normal tonight with training and that’s what I enjoy the most.”
Pike began the season with three defeats in a row which caused many in local quarters to write off the 2011 FAI Cup winners from challenging on all fronts again this campaign. However, the return of Shiels in September has resulted in the club reaching both Saturday’s showpiece and the final of the Munster Junior Cup on Friday week. The Dubliner maintains that the credit must lie with the players.
“Yeah it’s great to get to the finals but look it’s down to the players. The players were already here and I didn’t really bring in anyone. A lot of them were here from the last time I was here. Brian O’Callaghan is probably the only one that I brought in. It’s just good practice and that’s what I think I have brought back to it. You train hard and you look after yourself away from the football pitch. You try to bring standards that I think should be at every football club at this level in the city and the country.”
There are rumours that it will be the last season that the FAI Junior Cup will be held at the Aviva Stadium. Many have argued that it may take away from the occasion in future. However, Shiel is adamant that the occasion will not affect his players. It is the club’s second appearance at the national stadium in three years having been beaten by Sheriff YC 1-0 in 2016.
“I couldn’t care where this game is on because I just want to win the trophy. It could be out on Pike’s pitch or anywhere. The fact that it’s on in the Aviva will hopefully result in it being a distraction for North End and not us.”
The former Limerick FC assistant manager has a good knowledge of the opposition which he has acquired over the season but insists that Pike are focusing on their own performance before concentrating on the opposition later in the build-up.
“Yeah I have seen them once and I have a good bit of footage of them through contacts. I’ve watched them twice in the last 72 hours. I hadn’t done anything on them until over the weekend and we didn’t do anything on them tonight as we just wanted to get our own motors going again from a fitness point of view.
Listen to the full interview below where injury concerns as well as further preparations were discussed ahead of Saturday’s big game: