Patrick 'Padge' Cregg is settling in well to life at St Pats.
Just don't call him Paddy!
The 30 year old Dubliner has been known as 'Padge' all his life.
"Padge is what my mates called me when I was growing up and that name has stuck. At any club I've ever been at I was known as Padge. I must say prefer it to being called Paddy anyway!"
Manager Liam Buckley hasn't quite caught onto the nickname just yet though.
"The gaffer is calling me Paddy at the minute, I'm not mad of that so I might have to ask him if he'll call me something else."
Well Padge, if you haven't asked him in person yet, he knows now!
On a serious note, Patrick is "really enjoying a tough but good pre season so far."
Friendly wins over FAI FAS and Bluebell were followed up with an impressive 4-0 victory over Bray Wanderers in the Leinster Senior Cup and a 2-1 friendly defeat to Shelbourne on Sunday.
He says physical fitness has been a key focus of the pre season training so far.
"I'm really enjoying being here and the pre season so far, it's been very tough but very enjoyable."
"We want to be fit and be able to get after teams and I'm sure we'll be able to do that. All of the lads seem to be buying into what the staff want us to do which is good."
As Tough As It Gets
Pat spent the majority of his career in Scotland playing for Falkirk, Hibs, St Mirren and St Johnstone and has been through more than a few pre seasons.
But how does this one compare?
"They don't get easier and pre season always hard. This is tough though. It would be up there with one of the toughest I've done in my career, it's been enjoyable but the running aspect has been quite hard, but we've all covered the ground so far."
Strength and Conditioning Coach Mark Kenneally has been leading the fitness aspects of the sessions.
All of the players are wearing GPS tracking vests and heart rate monitors in all sessions so Mark and the staff can keep track of exactly how much ground each player is covering and how hard they are working.
The personalised feedback is something Cregg has been impressed with.
"Mark is able to give us all individual stats and data on how we've done so far which is very good. We know what he wants from us. He's told me what I need to improve on which is very refreshing instead of everyone being asked to work as a big group, with no individual feedback."
The passing style of football is something that appealed to the midfielder then Liam Buckley rang him.
"The style here will suit me a lot. Playing with a three in midfield is ideal. Any team I've ever been at and done well in played with three in the middle and that's how I like it. It means we can get on the ball and try to supply the attacking players with chances, which is how Liam wants us to play."
The Saints open the league campaign at home to Bray Wanderers on Friday February 24th before matches against Drogheda, Sligo, Finn Harps and Champions Dundalk in March.
Cregg assessed the opening weeks of the season.
"Obviously Dundalk, Cork and Rovers finished in the top three last season and they'll all be strong again. From our own point of view, a good start is important. There's no point in any club saying they are going to win the league or do this or that before a ball has been kicked, it's what we do on the pitch that matters."
"We'll be aiming to start well and go on a little run and pick up some good results. We need to realise it's going to be a lot of hard work against a lot of other good teams, but for now, we'll be focusing on the opening match against Bray.
A Christy Fagan double and goals from Ian Bermingham and Alex O'Hanlon earned a 4-0 win over Bray in the Leinster Senior Cup last Tuesday, but Cregg says that result won't have any bearing on the opening night.
"Bray will be decent this year, especially out there in The Carlisle Grounds, they'll be very hard to beat. They have signed a lot of experienced players in the off season and we know we'll get a difficult game, even after our win in the Leinster Senior Cup."
"If we win that, it gives us momentum heading into week two against Drogheda and maybe after the first third of games, we'll be up there having picked up a good number of points in the opening period of the season and then we can really set our aims."
Padge thinks the ability in the squad is good enough to beat anyone in the league and says having a competitive edge within the club itself will be one of the keys to success.
"There is a good balance in the squad in terms of positions and competition but also the balance of younger players and experienced ones like myself. It's a young man's game now."
"We need to also remember that we are competing against each other to be in the team. We need to have that top competition on our own training pitch. If we are all at our best in training, that helps us then in the games."
"If I'm not competing to my maximum I won't be in the team so from that point of view I'll be looking after myself and making sure I'm in the team. Everyone else in the group will be the exact same and that's the way it has to be if we want to do well."
|9||St. Patrick's Athletic||23||23|
|10||Galway United FC||23||22|