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Dublin: 15 °C Saturday 21 September, 2019
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League of Ireland kick-off: new-look St. Pat's not quite there yet

We continue our League of Ireland preview series with a look at another of the Dublin clubs. St. Pat’s have brought in a lot of new faces, but will they be able to mount a title challenge?

St. Patrick's Athletic goalkeeper Gary Rogers readies himself for the new season.
St. Patrick's Athletic goalkeeper Gary Rogers readies himself for the new season.
Image: ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Club name: St. Patrick’s Athletic

Stadium: Richmond Park

Manager: Pete Mahon

Founded: 1929

Finished last season: 5th

Players in: Stephen Bradley (Shamrock Rovers); Brian Shortall (UCD); Evan McMillan (UCD); David McMillan (UCD); Daryl Kavanagh (Waterford United); Paul Crowley (Drogheda United); Shane McFaul (Sporting Fingal)

Players out: Noel Haverty (Released); David McAllister (Sheffield United); Ryan Guy

It’s hard to know what to make of St. Patrick’s Athletic. After an incredibly promising opening to the 2010 campaign, the Inchicore side dramatically faded away, eventually finishing in a disappointing fifth place.

Pat’s wouldn’t have even had a trip abroad to look forward to were it not for the collapse of Sporting Fingal, but that won’t stop the Shed End Invincibles from enjoying this season’s European dance, regardless of where it takes them.

In an attempt to boost their prospects for the coming campaign, they have brought in a rake of new signings. Though the quality of the Saints’ new recruits doesn’t quite match up to those acquired by their well-endowed Dublin rivals, they will add some much-needed depth to the squad, giving boss Pete Mahon some interesting options should he feel the need to change things up a bit.

More importantly, however, are the players whom the club have managed hang on to. Pre-season rumours of Conor Kenna’s imminent departure to Shamrock Rovers ultimately proved to be false and he is the defensive rock on which boss Pete Mahon will look to build this season.

Without doubt, Pat’s have rebuilt and improved in the off-season – but you can’t help but feel that they’re not yet the menacing force which they’d like to be.

If they were a TD, they’d be? Eamon Gilmore. Knocking on the door for the past few years but, despite all the talk, not quite there yet.

The Score’s verdict: fourth.

View from the terrace

Sean Tougher, St. Patrick’s Athletic fan

Where will you finish this season? The fans are quite hopeful of a European spot, which will be a tough ask as there are some very good squads out there this season.

How will you do on opening weekend? It’ll be a tough test as games in Galway are always hard. With their recent turmoil, I’m quietly confident of a win.

Key man? It’s really too early to say with a largely new squad, but our captain Conor Kenna and centre forward Danny North would be the two that the fans will look to for leadership.

Weak link? There’s a lack of depth in the squad by the looks of things, which was partly the cause of our downfall last year. We only have really two out-and-out strikers in the squad as well.

New signing you’re most looking forward to seeing? The club’s newest acquisition Shane McFaul (signed from now defunct Sporting Fingal) looks to be one of our best signings this off-season. He was definitely one of the star performers of the league last year. Also, Stephen Bradley, signed from our arch rivals Shamrock Rovers, looks to have slotted into the midfield very well.

League’s best player (outside your club)? Shaun Williams who played for Sporting Fingal last year would be by far the most talented in the league. He’s widely rumoured to be Celtic-bound once they have the chance to sign him.

League’s best gaffer (outside your club)? I think Paul Cook of Sligo. He brought them on in leaps and bounds, got them playing arguably the best football in the league, and has built an extremely impressive squad in the west for this year. They could push for the league in my opinion.

Easiest fixture? I think everybody expects Drogheda to be the whipping boys for obvious reasons. Their preparations to join the First Division were disrupted by the news that they had been bumped up into the Premier Division, and with an extremely young and inexperienced squad, it could lead to some worrying results against them.

Toughest fixture? All of our games against Rovers are going to be really tough considering the huge amounts they’ve spent on their squad this season. Games against Sligo will also be tough, especially in the Showgrounds which is always hard to go to and get a result.

Best away atmosphere? Drogheda’s United Park would be one of my favourites, as the Pat’s followers have always travelled in numbers to the tight little terrace up there. It’s brilliant for noise and atmosphere. Obviously the two big Dublin derbys against Bohs and Rovers are good as well because huge numbers turn out and that bit of hatred turns into an electric atmosphere.

Worst away atmosphere? The Belfield Bowl, by a country mile.

Favourite terrace chant? The old faithful “When the Saints go marching in” would have to be a favourite of mine. When the crowd gets that one going, you can feel the passion pouring from the stands to the pitch straight away.

Read the rest of our club profiles>

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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