Monaghan visit Richmond Park this Friday night as the Saints aim to make it a great Patrick's weekend for fans by continuing their 100% winning record in this year's Airtricity League.
Monaghan, managed by Roddy Collins, visit Richmond Park for their first league outing in eleven years, a Charles 'Mbabazi' Livingstone goal being pegged back by Monaghan's Derek McGrath in a 1-1 draw back in November 2001.
The Saints head into the game on the back of two victories over Bray Wanderers and Dundalk in their opening league games, and coupled with the 4-0 win last Monday over Phoenix FC in the Leinster Senior Cup, Buckley revealed to stpatsfc.com that his side go into the game in high spirits.
“Yeah it was a great win. I was delighted that we were able to use the full squad and give some of the under nineteen's a game too so it was a very good win and great to see all the lads put in a good performance. It just shows the competition for places at the club.”
Despite Monaghan having only beaten the Saints once before in a game back in March 1993, Buckley was keen that his side remained focused on the job in hand against a side that have former Pats' players Chris Bennion and Jordan Keegan and Darragh Reynor in their ranks.
“We're expecting a tough game from Monaghan. If you look at last week's matches, Monaghan were leading in Tallaght against Shamrock Rovers at half-time 1-0 and led up till the hour mark. No doubt about it, Monaghan will be a very tricky side to play against as Roddy will have them well organised.”
“From our end of things, we're looking to maintain our good start to the season and continue the little bit of momentum we've built up,” Buckley added.
Saints' captain Conor Kenna echoed his manager's thoughts that while the Saints have been quick off the mark in the league this season, Monaghan were a side which must be treated with respect and not underestimated. “Two years ago, we made a great start to the season too. But we just have to take it on a game by game basis really, and then see what we can do as we're still getting to know each other to be fair,” Kenna told stpatsfc.com.
“With the wins, you're obviously building in confidence. Our lads are still trying to get to know each other, and the wins help everyone gel together quicker and become more confident as a team in training, but Monaghan are a decent side. They'll be tough opponents on Friday.”
The Saints' made a slow start to last year's league campaign, while Kenna himself picked up a knee injury in the first home game of the season against Bray Wanderers which meant he missed half the league season. Reflecting on last season's woes, the Saints' skipper was keen that the side maintain their current form and not see a drop in performance or results.
“Last season it was the second game I got injured, so when I got back fit I was still a long way behind the lads and trying to catch up in terms of fitness through games. But it stood to me in the end, and I'm just delighted I've been able to get a good pre-season behind me. I've two starts so far this year so that's been good for me.”
In team news, Liam Buckley was able to report that Aidan Price is the only player on the injury list, while Christy Fagan serves the final game of a three match ban. Jake Kelly returns to the match day squad having served a one match suspension, while several players are pushing for places following the midweek win over Phoenix.
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