Shamrock Rovers can now go and enjoy the Europa League clash with Italian giants AC Milan after opening up an eight-point lead at the top of the table by beating Cork City 3-0 at Turner's Cross. 

That's the view of manager Stephen Bradley, who lauded his side for their recent form, most notably in three tough Dublin derbies ahead of the visit to second-from-bottom side Cork. 

The Hoops remain unbeaten this season with nine wins and two draws from their 11 matches played and now enjoy a break for Europa League action, as Milan come to Tallaght Stadium on Thursday night (Live on RTÉ2). 

"We felt we did the hard work over the last few weeks with the Dublin derbies and tough games and we picked up points," Bradley told RTÉ Sport following Saturday's game at Turner’s Cross. 

"Today was about really driving it home and to make sure we picked up maximum points." 

The manager said that his side really kept their focus when their name was drawn to take on Milan, maintaining a game-by-game approach, which has resulted in maximum points over the past two matchess, to push clear of arch rivals Bohemians. 

"We just have to keep focusing on the next game. And when we got drawn against Milan, within the group it was "next league game". 

"But now we can enjoy Milan, we can go and play that game, and then it is back to business against Waterford who showed yesterday, picking up three points, that they are a good side.

"We know that, but we will just keep going and try to put points on the board every week." 

Roberto Lopes is likely to be tasked with keeping Swedish great Zlatan Ibrahimovic quiet on Thursday

Aaron Greene handed the Hoops a two-goal lead by the break in Cork and the manager said that he is a hard man to handle when he is in top form and leading the line for Rovers. 

"When Aaron is in that sort of form, he is a nightmare to play against because he can run in behind, he is quick and he is very, very clever. 

"And when he adds goals to that as well as his work-rate he is an all-round really good player." 

Ireland international Jack Byrne controlled the game for Rovers in the middle of the park, and Bradley believes that the creative attacking midfielder is starting to hit the sort of form that gained international recognition last season.

"Jack is getting into his stride," said Bradley. "He has been carrying a back injury for so long and when we had the break, Jack was not able to do all the work because of his back.

"He was a little bit behind but he’s back to speed now and you could see that today, he is quality." 

Looking ahead to the Milan game, Liam Scales is ruled out through suspension, however, Bradley confirmed that former international Joey O’Brien would slot straight back into the three-man defence with a timely return to fitness, replacing Scales for the final half hour in Cork. 

"It was important that we got Joey up to speed. He was carrying a knock last week, he trained one or two days, and now he has got 30-odd minutes." 

Now that the league leaders have a bit of a buffer between themselves and the chasing pack in the race for this year’s title, Bradley is allowing himself to ponder the improbable going into a one-off encounter with the Italian side on Thursday. 

"It’s an incredibly difficult game but at the end of the day, it’s 11 v 11 on the pitch. We’re a good side that can hurt teams, and stranger things have happened."