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Four years ago, in his first pre-season in charge, Sean Dyche took the players to Ireland as part of the build up to what was a terrific season. On that occasion we played Cork City and this year we are returning to Ireland and will kick off our pre-season with a game against Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium in Dublin.

The squad, including Kevin Long from Cork and our trio of Dubliners – Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick and Stephen Ward – will enjoy a few days in Ireland during the second week in July which will culminate in the game against Shamrock Rovers on the Friday evening of 14th July at their home in South Dublin.

shamrock badgeAlthough currently in mid-table, and a long way behind leaders Cork, Shamrock are undoubtedly the most successful club in the Republic of Ireland. They have won the League of Ireland title on 17 occasions and have also been FAI Cup winners a record 24 times.

They’ve been through some troubled times in recent years when, from 1987 to 2009, a total of 22 years, they were forced to play at various venues after their ground Glenmanure Park, where they had played since 1926, was sold to property developers.

During the wilderness years they played at Tolka Park and the former international stadium Dalymount Park, home of Bohemian, among others and there was a time when only their supporters saved them from extinction.

Tallaght Stadium is now their home and has been since 2009 and two years in, on 26th August 2011, they became the first Irish side to reach the group stages of one of the two European competition when they beat Partizan Belgrade in the play-off round of the Europa League.

Currently managed by Stephen Bradley, once a young player at Arsenal, they can list current Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill, ex-Claret Brian Laws as well as former Leeds midfielder Johnny Giles as former managers. There’s a former Blackburn player on Bradley’s staff too, he has two assistant managers, Glenn Cronin and Damien Duff, once of Blackburn, Chelsea, Newcastle and Fulham.

This will be the fourth time we’ve played in the Republic of Ireland. We have previously faced Manchester City in February 1963 and Bohemian in February 2008, both at Dalymount Park, and the game at Cork in 2013 which we won 3-0 with goals from Danny Ings, Scott Arfield and Sam Vokes.

We received a superb welcome at Cork on that occasion from both the club and their supporters. I don’t expect anything other than a warm Irish welcome this year either when I’m sure there will be a healthy following of Burnley supporters.

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