- Friday July 6th, 2012 @ 17:12
Rovers Test Awaits Saints
St Pats travel to Tallaght Stadium to face league champions Shamrock Rovers this Sunday with Liam Buckley's side hoping to record their third successive win in the league against a fellow Dublin rival.
The Saints ended a two year spell without a league win against the Hoops in style back in April when they defeated Stephen Kenny's side 5-1 in Richmond Park, Chris Forrester and Christy Fagan scoring twice, with John Russell also finding the net.
Saints' manager Buckley also has an impressive record in Tallaght Stadium since the Hoops began playing in the Dublin venue in 2009.
During his spell in charge of Sporting Fingal Buckley claimed two wins and a draw against the Hoops in Tallaght, while he also won the FAI Cup in the same venue for Sporting Fingal in 2009 against Sligo Rovers.
However, the Hoops have since claimed two victories over the Saints in cup competitions since April's defeat in Inchicore, having defeated the Saints last month 4-2 on penalties in the EA Sports Cup quarter-finals after a 1-1 draw in 90 minutes, and also knocking Buckley's side out of the Leinster Senior Cup 3-0 in May.
Following Thursday's Europa League first leg 1-0 victory over IBV, Buckley told stpatsfc.com that he would assess the players' fitness before considering making any changes to his side, while he added that he expected a stern test from the Hoops following their 5-1 defeat at the hands of Bohemians last week.
"I'm sure there will be a reaction from last week's game, bearing in mind that the worst result they can have is getting beaten by Bohs.
"While there'll be some sort of reaction, I'm not overly concerned about them as we need to regroup, make sure our lads are well rested up, recover and do things right from dietary point of view for Sunday.
"We'll get a team together and go up there and try and beat them."
Pats remain without the services of Chris Forrester who missed the IBV game with an ankle injury, while Mark Rossiter is a long-term absentee on the sidelines. Ger O'Brien, John Russell and Christy Fagan all picked up knocks during the week and they will be assessed ahead of the Dublin derby.
The Saints have only tasted victory over the Hoops in the league in Tallaght once when goals from Vinny Faherty and Ian Bermingham secured a 2-0 league win in March 2010.
Current Saints' midfielder Sean O'Connor lined out for the Hoops that night, however this time the Crumlin man goes into Sunday's Dublin derby seeking to strengthen the Saints' good run in the league.
"Yeah I remember the 2-0 win up there a few years ago and Ian Bermingham got a goal that night putting a free into the top corner.
"This time a win would put us seven clear of Rovers so that would be nice as it would also keep us in touch with Sligo as well," O'Connor told stpatsfc.com.
"But it's going to be a tough game, it is always is against Rovers. The confidence is high in the squad though, it's been like that all season and is the same after the win during the week."
Having played for the Saints for five years, the midfielder is line to make his 100th appearance for the club this Sunday. The achievement is something that means a lot to O'Connor.
"Yeah I wasn't aware that I was on 99 appearances, but it would be great to get the 100th appearance on Sunday, and obviously it would mean a lot to get it against Rovers, especially if we can beat them.