Football/Soccer

Veteran goalkeeper Mannus relishing another European adventure with Rovers

Shamrock Rovers goalkeeper Alan Mannus will be making his 45th European club appearance when he lines out for the League of Ireland champions against Hibernian FC of Gibraltar tonight
LARRY ROBERTS

WHEN former Northern Ireland international goalkeeper Alan Mannus lines out for Shamrock Rovers against Hibernian FC of Malta for their Champions League first round qualifying clash in Dublin this evening (7.30pm), it will be his 45th club game in European football.

The veteran netminder turned 40 in May - and is relishing the prospect of what could be his last European adventure.

Mannus has played European football with St Johnston and Linfield as well as Rovers and has lined out against the likes of Juventus and AC Milan, as well as a host of smaller clubs that the bulk of fans have rarely heard of or even know where they are from.

He has certainly clocked up plenty of air miles on his soccer-related travels, having played in European games over 20 years.

While there is an increasing amount of video footage and information now available in advance of meeting European opponents, there are still unknown factors.

“All European games are tough. We know it is going to be a difficult game and we are the team that they (Hibernian) wanted to get. I am sure they are going to be up for it," the Canadian born goalkeeper said.

“You don’t really get to see them live. It is different watching teams on video. It will probably be the same for them. We will try to be ready for them. You never know what a team is going to be like until you are actually on the pitch. We’ll have to make sure we are ready to start well and go from there.”

With Rovers 10 points clear at the summit of the SSE Airtricity League, all is good in the camp.

“We’re on a good run, we are in a good position in the league,” he said after Friday’s 1-0 away win over lowly Finn Harps. That was a third win in eight days.

“We said before the game that we wanted to get the points so we could just take a break from the league and just focus on Europe,” he explained.

Mannus also paid tribute to the Rovers’ fans for their great support, and a rocking Tallaght Stadium will certainly help Stephen Bradley’s side’s cause.

“I know there will be another packed stadium and they will get behind us again. There are nights to be remembered, and ones to look back on. These are the ones you want to be on the pitching playing in, and doing the fans proud.

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Football/Soccer