The push for Europe starts now for St Pats

St Patrick’s Athletic head to Ballybofey to take on Finn Harps in the League of Ireland

By Gerard Mulreaney (@gerardmulreaney)

After a break of almost a month, due to a positive COVID-19 case at the club, St Patrick’s Athletic face into four games in ten days, starting with a trip to Ballybofey on Tuesday evening to take on Finn Harps.

Stephen O’Donnell’s side had gained some momentum after a poor start to the campaign, with an unbeaten run of four games prior to the enforced layoff, and will look to push for that much coveted European place.

Speaking ahead of the game O’Donnell said: “I was very happy with the way we were playing before the layoff. The lads have come back and trained well, and only time will tell about the break, whether it was positive or negative. Of course, I was happy with the rhythm we were in before the enforced lockdown. We’ve done all we can to get ready.

“It will be around 25 days, since our last game, so it’s not ideal preparation, but there’s not much you can do. There’s not much ideal about this sort of situation we’re in worldwide at the minute.”

The Saints came away from Ballybofey in August disappointed, following a 1-0 defeat in the FAI Cup, and O’Donnell knows it will be just as difficult this time around: “Yeah, it’s always tough place to go Ballybofey. I was at the game between Bohemians and Finn harps on Saturday and Harps played very well and got a deserved 2-0 win. They’ll be fairly buoyed by that and will be full of confidence.”

While a place in Europe is still possible for Pats O’Donnell doesn’t want to look that far ahead, only focusing on Finn Harps: “I’m not going to be projecting where we’re going to come or where we’re hoping to come, we’re just trying to play as well as possible. Our next game up is Finn Harps away and we’re looking forward to that.”

Following the game on Tuesday night O’Donnell will allow himself the time to watch two of his former clubs battle it out in the Europa League, as Dundalk take on Arsenal in the Emirates Stadium on Thursday. He’s really looking forward to the game: “I’ll be an armchair fan looking at that game to see how they get on. It’s greta for an Irish team to be coming up against them, such glamorous opponents. It’s a great game for them. We have them on the Sunday, so I’m really looking forward to the next few days of football, starting with Tuesday night’s game.”

When asked if he’d have a desire to be involved in a game like that just one more time, O’Donnell said: “To be honest I’m delighted to be where I am. I’m looking forward to going up to Finn Harps tomorrow night. This is the biggest honour I’ve had in football, in the sense of managing such a club the size of St. Patrick’s athletic. It far outweighs anything I’ve done as a player.”

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