After the week that was, Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley was left questioning his future in the game.
The champions lost 1-0 away to Cork City last Friday and had three players contentiously sent off.
At the end of the game vile abuse was heard from a bar adjacent to the Turner’s Cross pitch directed at Bradley’s nine-year-old son Josh who is battling leukaemia.
Two people were promptly identified with Bradley actively liaising with Gardaí in Cork in regard to those responsible. Cork City yesterday confirmed that two people have received lifetime bans from Turner’s Cross as a result of their actions after last week’s game.
While Cork City were quick to condemn the abuse and offer their sincere apologies, Bradley isn’t interested in any of the culprits reaching out.
“No, because I’m hoping to press charges,” said Bradley. “I think they really need to be held accountable for their actions.
“I would love those people to spend a day on St John’s ward in Crumlin [Hospital] and see the realities of what it’s like to have a kid with cancer and understand it.
“I’m hoping the guards in Cork have enough to bring charges and push forward with it because it has no place in any sport or walk of life. If we start thinking that is acceptable in any shape or form, we’re in serious trouble.
“I must say the response from the majority of Cork fans and people around the country in general, whether it’s emails to the club, personal texts or letters, it’s been incredible and I can’t thank them enough for that.
“The small minority that it was, we need to show them that speaking like that about a sick kid is not acceptable.”
It’s been a trying week both personally and professionally for the 38-year-old, who confirmed that he has been given a warning by the FAI for his post-match remarks regarding refereeing.
Rovers have had six players sent off this season, five by Wexford official Sean Grant who refereed the game last Friday.
“It’s been hard,” said Bradley. “There is not much that would stop me. I’ve seen my mam pass from cancer after fighting for four years. And that was tough.
“I’ve always said there is not much in football that can hurt me because of what I’ve seen, with what my son is going through at the moment. But that really got to me, that really made me think of what I’m doing.
“Yes, maybe questioning everything and doing things, not for me, but for my son and so it’s been difficult. I’m lucky that I have the people around me, good family.”
Asked directly if he considered quitting, Bradley added: “I think you do. I think your kids and your family shouldn’t have to hear that or put up with that because of my job. So it did make me think about that, yes.
“I talked to people close to me. I think the key is you can’t let these people win, that’s important and I think it’s only natural to have the thoughts I had, because as a parent you do everything possible to protect your kids.”
Rovers’ appeal against midfielder Richie Towell’s straight red card in Cork was rejected while both Johnny Kenny and Sean Hoare were sent off for second bookings.
Along with those three, winger Neil Farrugia is also suspended while Alan Mannus, Simon Power, Dylan Watts and Trevor Clarke are out injured in advance of tonight’s game against Dundalk at Tallaght Stadium. Defender Lee Grace returns from a suspension as Rovers look to bounce back following two surprise defeats.
With just one point from their last three games, Dundalk welcome defender Andy Boyle back into the squad after a six-week injury lay-off. Robbie Benson, John Mountney and Anthony Moyo remain out injured.
Tonight’s fixtures (7.45 unless stated)
Bohemians v Sligo Rovers
Derry City v Shelbourne
Drogheda United v Cork City
Shamrock Rovers v Dundalk
UCD v St Patrick’s Athletic
Athlone Town v Longford Town
Bray Wanderers v Galway United
Finn Harps v Kerry FC (8.0)
Waterford v Treaty United
Wexford v Cobh Ramblers