St Patrick's Athletic are back in action tomorrow night as they travel west to face Sligo Rovers in their Setanta Sports Cup semi-final first leg, kick-off 8pm (Live on Setanta Ireland).
The Saints travel to the Showgrounds in the knowledge that the last time they earned a place in the Setanta Sports Cup final in 2010 having defeated the Bit O'Red over two legs 6-2 on aggregate.
On that occasion, goals from Paul Byrne, David McAllister, Gareth Coughlan and Ryan Guy gave the Saints a 4-1 lead in the first leg, before a 2-1 win in Sligo thanks to goals from Byrne and Damien Lynch sealed Pete Mahon's side a place in the 2010 final.
For the Saints' current manager Liam Buckley, the semi-final first leg presents itself with an opportunity to possibly go one step closer to the Saints gaining their second piece of silverware this season, following the side's 1-0 victory in the President's Cup against Sligo.
“It's our second game in the space of a couple of days so we'll prepare the lads as best as possible for the game in order that we've a strong side on the pitch from the first whistle. It's a semi-final of a cup competition, so we know we're only one round away from a cup final, so there's no doubting it – we want to win,” Buckley told stpatsfc.com.
In team news, Buckley confirmed that he will give fitness tests to both Keith Fahey and Kenny Browne ahead of the game. Fahey is recovering from a knock sustained in the Saints' 3-2 win against UCD two weeks ago, while Browne sustained a knock in training last Friday.
For Saints' defender Derek Foran, the tie between the Saints and the Bit O'Red in a Setanta Sports Cup semi-final is no new experience having played in the 2010 encounter. The experience was not to Foran's liking however as he was part of the defeated Sligo side. This time round however, he's hoping that things will be different having experienced the taste of Setanta Sports Cup success with Shamrock Rovers just last year.
“I remember that 4-1 game really well actually – I think Paul Byrne scored a great overhead that night for Pat's! I'm really looking forward to tomorrow as I think the Setanta Sports Cup is a great competition having won it last year,” the 24 year old defender told stpatsfc.com.
“Tomorrow's game is a good chance to go that bit closer to the final, so the whole squad is focused on the game. We'll go to Sligo to get the win, but with it being the first of a two legged match, we know not to go gung ho and chase the game too much.”
Last Saturday was a special occasion for Foran as he made his full league début for the Saints in what is now his second spell with the league champions having come through the Saints schoolboys after a spell with Templeogue United.
Despite the personal landmark though, Foran's main attention was on improving on the 1-1 draw against Limerick.
“The Sligo game is coming around at a good time for me as I'm keen to get back out on the pitch and get a result after Limerick at the weekend. I thought I was at fault for their goal, so I wasn't too happy about it and I'm keen to get back out on the pitch again.”
“But that's the great thing about this squad of players that we have. As a group, we assessed things for a short while, but then it's move on and prepare for the next game. Some managers dissect things an awful lot, but it's different here at Pats and I think that's down to the manager,” Foran said.
“Bucko's philosophy is to dust yourself down and get back out on the pitch and put things right. He's a great manager for getting the confidence levels up, so the whole squad is now really excited and raring to go for Sligo.”
|10||St. Patrick's Athletic||6||4|
|12||Galway United FC||5||2|