A Byrne-ing ambition to end cup jinx
THE FAI Cup really ramps up next weekend as the bulk of the second-round games take place and Fingal native Conan Byrne is hoping to help St Pat's end their 53-year wait for the elusive silverware.
They host Leinster Senior League side St Pat's CY on Friday night at Richmond Park and Byrne isn't expecting an easy game, despite the gulf in class.
'I think with the FAI Cup, especially for St Pat's, there is a lot of pressure on us and we are facing non-league opposition which makes it that bit trickier, but we will face it like any other game and hopefully we make it into the next round.
'The turnout should be good because it's the FAI Cup, but we are expecting a tough game. Any team who comes up against us, they are playing the champions of Ireland and as such they will bring out their A game.'
Byrne, himself an FAI Cup winner with Sporting Fingal, has experienced the agony of defeat and the euphoria of landing the trophy and he is hoping his experience can aid the team in their quest.
'There's a couple of lads who have won it and who also lost it with St Pat's. The year before I won it I was in the final with Shels and we were beaten then, so I have experience of both sides of winning and losing.
'I'm one of the senior pros on the team now, so I'll try and help the club build on their league success and help them to go all the way. They are one-off games and anything can happen.'
In terms of their opposition, Byrne says that the club scouts will have all the information needed for his team ahead of the game, but ultimately, if they play to their own game they should make the third round with not too much difficulty.
'Our scout will have seen a lot of them and I'm sure he will have a good knowledge of the side, but it's a case of us playing our own game and when we can play our own game there's not many sides will be able to live with us.'
Byrne lifted the league trophy with the Inchicore side last season, but he admits that some of the fans would have preferred if it was the FAI Cup they were raising.
'I think a lot of St Pat's fan possibly would have preferred us to win the FAI Cup last season rather than the league, but having said that we are the champions of Ireland and the platform that gives us with Champions League football is huge and we can build on that.'
Ultimately, though, they will be looking to banish the memories of 2012 and finally end the barren spell without a Cup success.
"We got to the quarter-finals last season where Shamrock Rovers beat us and this year we are hoping to go a few steps more like two years ago, get back to the Aviva and win it. That's the aim.'