St Patrick's Athletic begin their 2012 FAI Cup campaign this Sunday as they take on non-league Crumlin United, kick-off in Richmond Park is 3pm.
It is twelve months since the Saints last played Crumlin and on that occasion the game also took place in Inchicore at the second round stage of the FAI Cup, Pats running out 3-0 winners thanks to goals from Brian Shortall, Dave McMillan and Jake Carroll.
It was however another case of so near yet so far for Pats in last year's FAI Cup as they lost out to Shelbourne after a semi-final replay defeat, extending the club's drought of FAI Cup success to 51 years - success last coming in 1961 over Drumcondra in a 2-1 win.
For Saints' midfielder Sean O'Connor, Sunday's game is a chance to make a good start to the 2012 FAI Cup against the club where he began playing football, and a club who have a taste for success.
“I played most of my schoolboy football at Crumlin, I think I began there when I was ten so it'll be nice to play against my old club,” he told www.stpatsfc.com.
“I'd know most of the lads having played against them before, and while we won last year in the cup against Crumlin, I think they were missing a few players that day. They're after winning the Leinster Senior League so they're a decent side.”
The Saints have suffered defeat at the final stage of the cup on six occasions since 1961, the most recent coming in 2006 when O'Connor scored a goal from the bench but could not prevent Derry City winning 4-3 after extra time.
Recalling his memories from that day, O'Connor, the sole player still at the club to have played that day, revealed it is a huge ambition to end the Saints' 51 year wait.
“Yeah I think the fans would prefer to win the FAI Cup more than the league to be honest, it would be nice to get to the cup final again.
Obviously that day it was really disappointing to win it having been leading a few times, but if we get there again, hopefully we can win it.”
Saints' manager Liam Buckley also knows all about FAI Cup finals having been involved in the Pats side in the 1996 FAI Cup Final that lost a Cup Final replay to Shelbourne.
Buckley however has had success in the FAI Cup too having won the competition as a manager in 2009 when Sporting Fingal defeated Sligo Rovers 2-1.
Speaking to www.stpatsfc.com, Buckley spoke of his side's eagerness to put recent disappointing league results behind them and make a positive start to the 2012 FAI Cup campaign.
“We're hoping to get back to winning ways on Sunday, but Crumlin must be respected. I watched them win 1-0 during the week against Sacred Heart in the Metropolitan Cup, and having won the league recently, they've shown a lot of ability.”
The Saints continue to be without the services of James Chambers with a knee injury, though Buckley hopes to have the midfielder back after the mid-season break.
There is less encouraging news though in relation to Mark Rossiter's knee injury as the Saints' boss confirmed he is likely to miss the remainder of the season.
Otherwise, the Saints have a full squad to choose from.
|9||St. Patrick's Athletic||15||14|
|10||Galway United FC||15||14|