St Patrick's Athletic host Sligo Rovers this Sunday in the inaugural President's Cup, which sees the league champions face the FAI Cup winners in Richmond Park, kick-off 4pm.
With both teams in the final stages of their preparations for the start of the SSE Airtricity League season, the game can be expected to be hard fought and ultra competitive.
For Liam Buckley's side, the match-up of the two sides is one which will bring back memories of the Inchicore team's 2-0 victory over the Bit O'Red last October – goals from duo Greg Bolger and the now departed Anto Flood were enough to secure the win and seal the league title for Buckley's Saints.
Sligo, who now feature former Pat's midfielder John Russell, have strengthened their own ranks over the close season, and as Buckley told stpatsfc.com, he expects them to present a tough challenge on Sunday, and for the season ahead.
“Sligo had a great year last year in winning the FAI Cup and challenging for the league, so we know Sunday's game is going to be tough. Our pre-season has gone well, but the players and management are really excited now for the start of the season, and especially Sunday's game,” Buckley said.
“The President's Cup should be a great occasion for our fans who were fantastic, as usual, all last season. All our lads will be trying to get the result for them for all the great support we've gotten, and hopefully if we can perform on Sunday, we'll get that win for them.”
In team news, Buckley reports that after last Monday's 1-0 away win against Ballinamallard United in the Setanta Sports Cup he has no injuries in his squad, leaving him with a full squad to select from.
For midfielder Conan Byrne, the club's top scorer in all competitions last year with 12 goals, Sunday's game presents both ideal preparation ahead of the Saints' league opener in Cork next week, and the chance to add to last year's trophy haul.
“Who doesn't want to win a bit of silverware? It's the President's Cup as well, so it would be nice to put our names on the trophy.”
However Byrne is under no illusions about the challenge which the Saints face. “It doesn't come tougher than Sligo. You'd usually say that if you finish above them, you have a great chance of winning the league. It's a nice curtain raiser for the League as well, to have this game on the week before the start of the season. We're two passing teams and it has the makings of a cracker of a game, so I'm really looking forward to it.”
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