Andy Lyons set for Conference League opener against Djurgardens after keeping eye on ball despite Blackpool move

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There was no danger that Andy Lyons would take his eyes off the ball over the past two months as he pursued his schoolboy dreams.

Lyon will be short for Shamrock Rovers tomorrow as they kick off their Europa Conference League group stage campaign against Swedish club Djurgardens.

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Shamrock Rovers star Andy Lyons

The Hoops also retained their place at the top of the table, while booking a place in the knockout stages of the FAI Cup.

And Lyon have been key to it all with eight goals this season, including winners against Ferencvaros in the Europa League and Drogheda United in the Cup.

It was enough to earn him the SSE Airtricity Soccer Writers Irish Player of the Month award, ahead of Hoops teammates Rory Gaffney and Alan Mannus.

And Lyons went all out knowing a January move to Blackpool was going on behind the scenes for much of the past two months.

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The transfer was confirmed on deadline day last week, which will see the Irish Under-21 star swap Tallaght for Bloomfield Road for an estimated fee of around €350,000.

But Lyons found it easy to focus on the present rather than thinking about the future.

He said: “I could only control what I could control, and I could control what I did on the pitch.

“For me it was really my performances on the pitch and everything that happened off the pitch, I just let others deal with it and try not to get involved.

“If I let everything off the pitch get to me, it would affect my performance on the pitch.

“If you haven’t had such a good month, people are going to wonder.

“We had a good month, we had a good month collectively.

“And that’s the main thing at the end of the day.”

This good month has prepared Rovers for an eventful end to the season.

The Hoops will face at least 16 games over the next nine weeks as they battle in Europe and at home.

Lyons added: “We’ve put ourselves in the position that it is and you wouldn’t want to change it.

“If you told me that there are only eight or ten games left in the season, that would mean that we are out of the Cup and probably not in Europe.

“It’s not what we want and it’s not ideal. We sat down at the start of the year and knew what we wanted to do. If everything went according to plan, we knew we would be in the position we are in. We are certainly not complaining. This is the position we want to be in.

Tomorrow that run-in begins with Djurgardens at Tallaght, as Lyons ticks off one of the reasons he joined the Hoops from Dublin rivals the Bohemians.

But playing at this level in Europe is also a long-time dream.

He was in the crowd as an 11-year-old when Rovers were in the group stage in 2011 and also attended some of Dundalk’s games in 2016.

He revealed: “With my dad, we used to go to Rovers games.

“So I was here for the Tottenham game at Tallaght Stadium.

“Even the Dundalk games were also played in Tallaght so I think I might have attended a few of them too.

“It’s a great opportunity, not only for the club, but also for the league.

“It will be a big test of course, that’s where you want to be, in group stage football.”

And as he ticks off an ambition, he is determined to do more.

He added: “We’ve come so far in the direction of getting to the group stages and there’s no way we’re taking our foot off the pedal and just making numbers in the group stages.

“No matter what team it was or what group we were given, we went there with the same mindset.

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“And that mindset was trying to get out of the group.

“It’s a tough group, but we believe in the dressing room that we’re going to get through this.”


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