Brush looking towards a bright future

At 37, goalkeeper Richard Brush is the oldest member of the Sligo Rovers squad but don’t let that belay his continuing love and enthusiasm for the game. He has seen it all and won it all in trophy laden spells with Rovers and tonight’s opponents Shamrock. Rovers made a recent start to the season and had a blip in form which was dispelled by wins against Finn Harps and Drogheda United and for Brush he feels this just underlines how strong the League is getting:

“One of the oldest clichés in football is that there is no easy game and this year has proved that more than other seasons, there are no easy games in this League. All the clubs are continuing to improve and do things in a more proper fashion and getting this right in terms of budgets and that. You see now a more even spread of players going to clubs so you see lads who normally would only play for the top six clubs going to the likes of Harps and Shels and Drogs and that’s no disrespect to them clubs. It just shows how things are getting tighter in the league and the gap in standards are narrowing. All clubs now have a certain level of strength in depth that they can turn to and has been seen on their day any club can beat another.”

The good start maybe glossed over that Rovers were somewhat of a rebuild in the off season with the departures of Johnny Kenny to Celtic and John Mahon to St. Johnstone and the arrival of a number of new players including ones who are new to the League and Brush feels that it can take time for sides to gel and that the start they had maybe glossed over that fact:

“It’s a fact in this League that the best players move on, we lost Johnny who was our top scorer and then John who was one of our best performers. These aren’t players who are easily replaced and we have signed well but these lads need time to work their way into the team and to adapt to the League. There is no doubt for me that once they find their feet that they are going to be top lads but there was always going to be a wobble as they settle in. When we were playing St. Pat’s we were telling them they are a strong team one of the better sides in the League and then we go out and beat them. Then you go and play the so called ‘lower teams’ and we lost and that was an eye opener for us all and certainly opened the eyes of the new lads that this is not an easy League. It goes back to what I said earlier that every game is tough, there are no easy games.”

While he might be happy to be in a support role to Edward McGinty, injury meant that Brush was called into action for the games against Drogheda away and Harps at home and he enjoyed getting back out on the pitch:

“Yeah I played against Derry towards the end of last season and then when Ed got injured I was in for the games against Drogheda and Harps and thankfully they were two good results for us. In both games especially the game away against to Drogheda we them early on the counter. We knew from previous years that Drogheda away and be a tough place to game and I have played in some torrid games for us there. We got them with three sucker punches inside the opening half an hour. Still you had to be on top of your game as in the second half they missed a penalty which if that had gone in would have put us under pressure and would have made for a different game. Then against Harps Aidan got a hat trick and while Harps pulled a late goal back it was too late for them to rally. That said they were still having a pop when they were three down. You see that more that clubs aren’t writing games off look at the game against Drogheda last weekend. They went two down but didn’t let their heads drop and got back into the game with a dubious penalty but well I’m biased as I’m a goalkeeper and we have to stick together! But even when they went down to ten it was still a struggle to break them down but we did and Garry got us a late winner. You see now that teams will continue to have a go and chase to find a way back into games.”

Now in his 15th season in Irish football since he first arrived at the Showgrounds after spells with Coventry and Shrewsbury Brush is still enjoying his football and hopeful to keep going for a few more years yet:

“When I was warming up for the game against Drogheda in the Showgrounds one of the guys in the crowd said to me I remember your debut Brushy. That was away against Bray Wanderers, I came on for John O’Hara, that was my introduction to the club and the League. That was the start of it all and everything that has gone in-between and all the clubs that I have played with, it has been great and I have been lucky to have won trophies and played in big European games and hope there are a few more years left yet. But if it was to come to an end after this season then I would have nothing but fond memories of my career all the way through”.

By Keith O’ Dwyer