AARON GREENE says Shamrock Rovers will do their talking on the pitch as they close in on a second successive league title.
The Hoops need just seven points from their remaining six games to retain their crown and host Bohemians this evening.
Last year, they finished 11 points clear of the Gypsies, with Dundalk a further 11 points behind in an 18-match season, in which they were unbeaten.
With just half the games of a normal campaign, some played down the significance of their achievement, most notably Dundalk striker Pat Hoban who said it was not a ‘proper league’.
Despite losing five times this campaign, they have a 12-point advantage at the top of the table with Greene saying outside talk spurs on Rovers.
The 31-year-old said: “You’re hearing comments from everyone saying we’re beatable, 18-game season, people criticise us. You hear what people say but it doesn’t have in brackets ‘Covid title’. It doesn’t have anything. You still get a winner’s medal and I still handed it to my da after the season.
“You look at them in the face and shake their hand at the end of the year if you win your league title.
“We love it. Keep talking about us! We just worry about us. We’re not in papers talking about other teams.
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“I love it when people speak about us and call us vulnerable, beatable. That’s cool! We are so far ahead of these teams points-wise, but they keep talking about us.
“We look after ourselves and that is drilled into us by the staff and management.
“We have seven points to get and while people like to speak about us, we just have to look after ourselves.
“We had it numerous times since I’ve been here, people always want to doubt us — but keep doubting us because we’ll just keep showing up.
“For me, I love it. Keep letting me hear about it. I love when people speak about us and doubt us. Getting beaten in Europe, writing us off, blah, blah, blah . . . ”
But the forward — who netted the second goal in their comfortable 2-0 win over his former club Sligo Rovers on Friday — admitted he did not expect the team to have as big a lead as they do.
In May, they lost at home to Liam Buckley’s Bit O’Red, who went to the top of the table as a result, but the Hoops have kicked on since.
Greene added: “The massive thing for us was they came here at the start of the year and they won and walked off like they won the league, I’ll never forget it.
“I was in the dressing room and told the boys that they are walking off like that. I have played for Sligo so I know what it’s like, playing Shamrock Rovers is their biggest game of the season.
“You don’t win leagues in June. We wanted to show up, as if they beat us they would have been the only team to do it twice in Tallaght Stadium this year. It was important for us.
“When you look back to when they beat us to go three points clear, no, we wouldn’t expect to be this far ahead.
KICK IN THE ARSE
“But we knew if we stuck to our standards and levels that we would have a right chance and that’s not being big-headed.
“There is never a team in this league that gets handed it and last week showed you that and we have bounced back this week. It was probably the kick in the arse that we deserved last week.”
That was in reference to their defeat to Dundalk, who had also beaten them earlier in the campaign.
This evening, they face another side who has recorded two wins over them this season, with Bohs coming out on top in the league and FAI Cup at Dalymount Park, having lost the five Dublin derbies prior to that.
The Cup game, in particular, was an ill-tempered affair with Georgie Kelly and Ronan Finn sent off, Danny Mandroiu collecting a ban for throwing an object back into the crowd and Rovers boss Stephen Bradley making a series of complaints about the stewarding of the match.
Greene — who spent the 2010 campaign with the Gypsies — is relishing the chance to take them on in Tallaght again.
Greene said: “They are the best games in the country. Ask both players. They are unbelievable. The atmosphere, even going over there when there were no fans. I love going into it and it’s like going into the lion’s den.
“We got a bit of stick when we went there but that’s part and parcel of football and I’m not going to cry about it.
“They beat us on the day and hopefully we can show up on Monday and get three points and then it’s another four points to retain the title.
“The place will be rocking and we just want to put in another good performance.
“We just have to be as professional as we always are. The manager drills it into us day in, day out and this group will never change.”
Graham Burke comes into contention for the Hoops after training yesterday morning following a calf problem.