- Thursday February 8th, 2024 @ 13:00
Preview: President's Cup Final
The Saints will be hoping follow their FAI Cup success by winning the President's Cup on Friday night.
St Pat's won the inaugural edition of this competition back in 2014, and last played in the final at the beginning of the 2022 campaign, losing on penalties to Shamrock Rovers.
Kick-off at Tallaght Stadium is at 8pm with the St Patrick's Athletic allocation totally sold out.
A record 2,300 fans are set to make the journey from Inchicore, with the whole East Stand sold out, making this the biggest ever Saints crowd to attend an away game at Tallaght Stadium.
For those not in attendance, the game will be shown live on LOITV.
Jon Daly's men come into this game off the back of a strong showing in pre-season, with the last of these games being a Leinster Senior Cup double header against UCD AFC and St Mochtas FC last Saturday.
New boys Ruairi Keating (2) and Brandon Kavanagh were on target in a 3-1 victory at the UCD Bowl with fellow new recruit Cian Kavanagh scoring twice in the 2-2 draw away to St Mochtas to secure progression to the LSC 1/4 finals.
St Pat's finished the 2023 LOI Premier Division in 3rd place with 62 points from 36 league games, qualifying for Europe in the process.
The club was also crowned Sports Direct FAI Cup Champions for the fifth time, after beating Bohemians 3-1 in the final in November 2023 at the Aviva Stadium in front of a record cup final crowd.
St Pat's won the first ever edition of the President's Cup in 2014.
A superb Keith Fahey strike was the difference as the Inchicore side beat Sligo Rovers 1-0 in Richmond Park to claim their first piece of silverware that year - they would go on to win the FAI Cup that season for the third time in the club's history, and for the first time in fifty-three years.
Shamrock Rovers finished 1st in the 2023 Premier Division, winning their fourth title in a row, with 72 points from their 36 games.
Rovers last won the President's Cup in 2022, beating Pat's on penalties in the final before losing last year's final 2-0 against 2022 FAI Cup champions Derry City at the Brandywell.
The last time these sides met was a 2-0 league win for Rovers in October 2023. Aaron Greene and Graham Burke scored late goals in Inchicore.
The other games in 2023 saw two wins from the Hoops and a draw.
Rovers beat Pat's 3-2 in Tallaght in May. Mark Doyle put the Saints 1-0 up before Lee Grace scored on the brink of half-time to level things up. A Richie Towell double in the second half secured the win for the home side despite a late Ben McCormack strike.
The previous meeting in Richmond Park was a 2-0 win for Stephen Bradley's side in April. Johnny Kenny and a second-half Trevor Clarke strike combined to secure the points.
The first encounter between the sides in the 2023 Premier Division was a 2-2 draw in Tallaght Stadium on St Patrick's Day.
Richie Towell opened the scoring before an Eoin Doyle penalty in the 42nd minute made it 1-1.
In the second half, Jack Byrne reinstated the lead for the home side before a late Jake Mulraney goal in the 88th minute sent the Inchicore side's travelling fans into pandemonium, securing the point.
JON DALY: "It's the League winners against the Cup winners with lots of quality on both sides"
Manager Jon Daly led the club to FAI success last November, six months after taking charge, he's excited at the possibility of picking up another on Friday night with a win in Tallaght:
"We're looking forward to the game, it will be a good test for both sides heading into the beginning of the league next week.
We've got a huge crowd of 2,300 heading to Tallaght, which I'm told is our biggest ever away crowd going there, our supporters have been fantastic and we're excited about playing in front of them again tomorrow night before going to Galway.
Ourselves and Rovers have had really good games over the last couple of years, it's the league winners against the cup winners with lots of quality players on both sides, so it'' great to have a competitive game like this so close to the new season."
JAKE MULRANEY: "Everyone is ready, it will be a good test"
Jake Mulraney comes into 2024 off the back of an impression first season in Inchicore, which he capped his displays off with two crucial assists in a 3-1 victory in the FAI Cup Final.
The tricky winger knows how important this game is and is relishing the chance to test himself ahead of the big kick-off next weekend:
"We're all looking forward to it. The more support you can get, the better. The FAI Cup Final last year showed it with the number of supporters and we'll have a big crowd in Tallaght.
This Friday will be exciting. They're a good side and so are we.
We know what they're about and they know what we're about. It will be a good test for both sides and hopefully we'll come out on top."
JAY McCLELLAND: "Everyone is raring to go"
Jay McClelland became a part of a select group of players to win the FAI Cup twice for St Pat's when he lifted the trophy in November, having already won it in 2021.
Having extended his contract over the winter, he's going into his fifth season as a Saint, the former UCD man is excited at the prospect of playing in front of such a large away end on Friday:
"Everyone is ready. We're all looking forward to it.
It's a big tie - the league winners against the cup winners and it's a big game.
We've sold over 2,000 tickets, it's going to be our biggest allocation in Tallaght Stadium which is brilliant.
That number of tickets is more than some teams get sold for their home games, the interest in the League of Ireland and St Pat's has grown hugely since I've been here, it's amazing to see."
Tom Grivosti (knee) will miss the match as he continues his rehab from an operation over the off season.
TICKETS / LIVE STREAM:
The St Patrick's Atheltic allocation is totally sold out, the game will be shown live on LOITV.
Build-up and updates will be available across all the our social media channels while on can download the official St Pat's FC App for live fan chat during the match.
Image credit: Sportsfile