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‘He’s only a young lad in the team… I wouldn’t be too hard on him’

Harry Kenny was reluctant to single out Jake Walker for blame following the loss to Shamrock Rovers.

Jake Walker (file pic).
Jake Walker (file pic).
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

- Paul Fennessy reports from Richmond Park

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC manager Harry Kenny defended youngster Jake Walker after his side’s 2-0 loss to Shamrock Rovers last night.

The Saints had kept their rivals at bay and rarely looked like conceding for much of a cagey first half.

However, the Hoops broke the deadlock on the brink of half-time, owing to Greg Bolger’s clinical finish from Jack Byrne’s clever through pass.

18-year-old forward Walker was at fault for the goal, failing to track his opponent’s run, and the hosts struggled to recover from that setback, with Rovers adding a second shortly after the break.

To add to Walker’s woe, he was replaced by Dean Clarke at half-time, but Kenny afterwards said the young player should not be judged too harshly for his error.

“Our player fell asleep for the goal, Greg finished well,” he said. “But that’s in the 46th or 47th minute, which is a killer, when you’re trying to lift the lads. Then you concede again five minutes into the second half.

“I don’t mean to be on Jake’s case, he’s only a young lad in the team, that’s his second start. That’s just a bit of experience [needed] really — staying with your player. He’ll learn from that. I wouldn’t too hard on him.”

Overall, Kenny admitted his side were not good enough on the night. Rovers always looked the more likely to make the breakthrough with the game in the balance, while Pat’s struggled to open the visitors up once their rivals sat back.

I thought the best team won, to be honest with you. First half, while they dominated possession, Brendan [Clarke] only had one save to make, tipping it around the post, but after that, I find it difficult to think of many saves he had to make in the first half.

“We played reasonably well after that, but I don’t know whether they settled on 2-0.

“We were pretty good in the second half, I was delighted with the character and the effort, but the goals either side of half time killed us obviously.”

A concern emerging from last night’s game from a Pat’s perspective was an injury suffered to Conor Clifford, with the former Chelsea trainee having to be withdrawn just before the half-hour mark. Nonetheless, Kenny was hopeful that the problem was nothing serious.

“We’ll get it assessed and see how bad it is. But it’s an impact injury, so they’re normally not too bad. Once it’s not a pull or a strain.”

Next up, Pat’s face Waterford in the RSC on Friday. The following week will be similarly busy, with a glamour friendly against Premier League side Chelsea taking place in between their home and away Europa League fixtures against Swedish outfit Norrkoping.

It’s a big challenge, because it’s in between the European games, which is a bit of a tough one. We’ll manage it. We’ve enough players to manage it through. It’s a good game to look forward to.

“We’ll see what it brings, it’ll really depend on how the first leg goes for us here. After that, we’ll make a few decisions based on the second leg.”

As for his side’s general form, Kenny added: “We just need to be more consistent. We had a bit of consistency there with the last four matches — we drew two and won two, pretty decent. Rovers have a good team — it’s Rovers and Dundalk this year [challenging for the league], so that’s going to be a difficult match anyway. Our sort of [battle] at this moment in time is with Waterford, Derry and Bohs, chasing down the European spots. We’ll see how that goes.

“Our whole formation was disrupted tonight, with Ciaran [Kelly] not being available before the game, so that was hard to take as well.

“I’d love to get in a couple of players [in the transfer window], but they’re not there, not the ones I want anyway. But if someone becomes available, I’d certainly be interested in them.”

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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