- Thursday March 3rd, 2016 @ 15:41
PREVIEW: Saints Vs Galway United (Friday, 7.45pm)
St Patrick's Athletic get their 2016 SSE Airtricity League campaign underway on Friday night as they host Galway United in Richmond Park (kick-off 7.45pm).
The Saints ended the 2015 season with a game against the Tribesmen back in October, and now get the 2016 league campaign underway against Tommy Dunne's side.
With nine new signings in his squad for the 2016 season, Saints' manager Liam Buckley is likely to give a number of debuts on Friday night to several players.
Speaking to stpatsfc.com ahead of the opening game of the league season, Buckley said the Saints' squad were looking forward to ending the four month wait to get back into league action.
"It feels like a long time since we last played so players and management are all looking forward to getting the season up and running. We've made a number of signings and freshened up the squad so there'll be a lot of new faces for supporters to see on Friday," Buckley admitted.
"A new squad means we'll be looking for the home crowd to get behind the team from the first whistle onwards. We've a number of young talents in the squad so there are several players to be excited about."
On the challenge of facing Galway United, Buckley admitted he expected to get nothing easy having gone toe to toe with the Tribesmen several times last year, including the EA Sports Cup Final which finished 0-0 after extra-time, only for the Saints to win 4-3 on penalties against Tommy Dunne's side.
"I know Tommy well so I'd be expecting Galway to be very fit at the start of the season and to be ready for the season ahead. They've made a couple of signings themselves and retained a lot of key players from last year so they will make it tough for us."
In team news, the Saints will be without 20 year old midfielder Jack Bayly who is recovering from a thigh strain, while Republic of Ireland U21 international Lee Desmond faces a late fitness test ahead of the game.
Ahead of the game and a possible debut for the club, Saints' midfielder Mark Timlin spoke of his happiness on heading into the 2016 season with Pat's having signed from Derry City and with how things went over the close season.
"I thought pre-season generally went well. I picked up a bit of a thigh strain there a few weeks ago, so I missed our game in Bray, but overall, I can't complain with how things have gone since joining."
At 20 years old, making the move from Buncrana to Dublin is one not many have made however from a football point of view and in terms of settling off the field, Timlin paid tribute to both the Saints' management and players.
"I feel I've settled in quite well to team and off the pitch too. Liam Buckley has said he thinks I can play in midfield; it's a role that's new to me but I feel it's gone well. The lads have been great in welcoming me in to the dressing room, and the banter in moving to Dublin too has been good, especially living with Shane [McEleney] and Dave [Cawley] who have been great with me."
To matters on the field though, and Timlin admitted to stpatsfc.com that he expected nothing easy against Galway. "Galway are a settled side and have signed a few players to make them that bit stronger. We won't have it all our way on Friday so we have to play well if we're to have a good start to the season."
"I've been looking forward to first game now for a while as I've never had the chance to play in Richmond Park competitively as I was always injured or suspended! Hopefully I can do well if called upon on Friday night."
Kick-off on Friday night is 7.45pm in Richmond Park; St Patrick's Athletic vs Galway United.