Liverpool loanee praised after impressing on League of Ireland debut

Vítezslav Jaros pulled off some good saves, as St Pat’s drew with Shamrock Rovers.

Vitezslav Jaros (file pic).
Vitezslav Jaros (file pic).
Image: PA

ST PAT’S BOSS Stephen O’Donnell was pleased with new signing Vitezslav Jaros, after the goalkeeper was one of the standout performers in the 1-1 draw away to Shamrock Rovers on Friday night.

The 19-year-old from Czech Republic signed on loan from Liverpool last month.

Jaros is highly thought of at his parent side. He joined the Anfield club from Slavia Prague in 2017 and signed a long-term contract extension with the Reds last summer.

He has made the bench on four occasions for Jurgen Klopp’s team, including three times in the Champions League and is now due to spend the full season with the Richmond Park outfit.

He was one of five debutants in the Pat’s team to face Rovers, with Paddy Barrett, John Mountney, Ronan Coughlan and Matty Smith also making their Saints bow.

“Vitezslaw is a good keeper, delighted to have him on board,” O’Donnell said after the game. “That’s his first-team debut, first senior game in professional football shall we say, and he did very well. He can be delighted with himself. 

“He’s a good, level-headed boy and nothing much fazes him. He’s got a very good mentality.”

It was a less positive night for another new player, Barrett — the former Dundalk defender who last played in Cambodia with Preah Khan Svay Rieng before joining the Saints in February. He needed to come off in the 84th minute due to injury, though O’Donnell suggested it was only precautionary.

“He’s just been having a little bit of a calf issue, but it’s not going to be too serious. He’s come in a little bit later and we’re trying to get a bit of work into him and obviously not trying to overdo it in the sense of causing an injury.”

Meanwhile, another ex-Dundalk player, Mountney, lined out at right-back, having spent the majority of his career in midfield.

“John’s versatile, he can play a lot of different positions as you saw with Dundalk. The one thing unbelievably that’s changed with John over the years is his football intelligence, in terms of his IQ for the game now is very good, so you can put him in a lot of different positions and he’ll take to it like a duck to water in terms of positional and that type of stuff.”

Pat’s had been forced to play the majority of the game on the backfoot against the hosts but looked set for a smash-and-grab victory, after Roberto Lopes’ own goal put them ahead in the dying minutes, only for Aaron Greene to score an equaliser moments later.

O’Donnell said he was happy with the “attitude and application” of his players amid a “spicy” game in which three of his men picked up bookings.

Pat’s have a good recent record against Rovers. They were the only Premier Division team the reigning champions failed to beat last season, and the Hoops again came unstuck against their Dublin rivals on Friday.

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“I said to the boys beforehand that whatever the result was it’s not going to determine the season,” O’Donnell added. “But it gives our boys belief.

“I think Rovers were proper at it in terms of intensity, so we stood toe to toe and we’re very happy with that. Individually, we have a lot of pedigree in our team. We’re just going to keep working hard, I have a real hard-working honest bunch.”

And after matching the champions, does O’Donnell believe his side are capable of maintaining this consistency for the remainder of the campaign?

“I’m hoping so. We’ve players now with a proper pedigree, who have won leagues, won cups, played in Europe, played cross-channel, U21 internationals, so we have a good mix, but we are a new team and we do have quite a small squad, but we’ve some very good young players who you wouldn’t have seen [on Friday] coming through, but they are very young and that will take time. It’s a good mix, there’s a good feel about the place.

“We’re looking forward to next week, it’s another big challenge, Drogheda scored in the last minute [to beat Waterford on Friday], so they’ll be coming to Richmond on a high next Saturday.

“I got a good feeling in pre-season as regards the camaraderie and that, the new players gelling with the ones who were here last year. It takes time to build those things but the early signs are good. They’re all amiable, good lads.”

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