Following the club's remarkable European exploits, Ronan O'Flaherty outlines why the recently-released 'Saints In Europe' DVD should have pride of place in the home of every Saints fan.
In a year of unprecedented financial difficulty for Irish club football, St Patrick's Athletic's UEFA Cup run was undoubtedly the heart-warming story of 2008.
An incredible journey that started in Riga and ended in Dublin's RDS - with notable stop-offs in Boras, Berlin and Inchicore in between - offered hope to the genuine Irish soccer-supporting public that a team from this country can and will make the much-talked-about breakthrough in Europe.
Well, success is always relative and for the Saints, this UEFA Cup run was a breakthrough. Having enjoyed considerable domestic success in the past twenty years, performances in European competition - a few notable matches aside - more often than not disappointed. Not so in 2008, however.
From a personal point of view, this writer attended five of the six UEFA Cup games; the away clash with Elfsborg falling foul to holiday plans. That said, I still recall with great fondness watching that match live over the internet and jumping around like a crazed lunatic following the completion of that magic second-half turnaround. It was a real had-to-be-there moment, but let's just say that the joys of soccer were lost on my Canadian friends.
Of course we all know what happened in the second leg in Inchicore, indeed, how could we ever forget? Jason Gavin's equaliser elevated Pat's fans on to Cloud Nine, while Mark Quigley's insurance goal that followed just moments later... well, it still hasn't quite sunk in.
The two legs in the first-round proper against Hertha Berlin were memorable too, even if luck failed to acknowledge our team's superhuman efforts in the return clash at the RDS.
This was a European run that may not be matched for quite some time, so it goes without saying that the number-one must-have item for all Saints fans should be the 'Saints In Europe' DVD. If you haven't bought a copy yet, get it sorted.
This is a wonderful production, with extensive highlights from every match, behind-the-scenes footage and exclusive interviews with John McDonnell, Richard Sadlier and a number of players.
It's not long since Irish club soccer coverage consisted of ten minutes every Sunday night - and that covered a given weekend's entire schedule - so the sheer depth of exposure that this DVD offers can still be viewed as something of a new departure.
The sharp claws of the recession are taking a hold on the country with every passing day and the future is uncertain. Therein lies one great thing about the past, though; it is certain and what's done is done. St Patrick's Athletic's incredible European adventure can never be taken away and this DVD is a celebration of what will, in time, be acknowledged as a unique achievement.
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