Wednesday 24 May 2017

Chambers fired up as Saints target cup lift

James Chambers and Gavin Brennan are likely to renew their rivalry when St Patrick’s Athletic take on Shamrock Rovers at Richmond Park tonight
James Chambers and Gavin Brennan are likely to renew their rivalry when St Patrick’s Athletic take on Shamrock Rovers at Richmond Park tonight
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

The determination to relieve the frustration from a torrid experience in Inchicore last Friday has added an edge to St Patrick's Athletic's preparations for their crunch FAI Cup tie with Shamrock Rovers tonight.

It's typical really. After years of starting every cup run with questions about the well-documented drought which was ended last November, the holders embark on the next run to the Aviva under a different kind of pressure.

Their loss at the hands of champions Dundalk leaves them 16 points off the pace so an exit to the Hoops would remove a lot of interest from the remainder of their campaign.

James Chambers points out they still have Europe to come and the Saints are also in the semi-finals of the EA Sports Cup. However, for a variety of reasons, the group know they have to perform in what should be a full-blooded affair.

Endured

"We didn't perform anywhere near the level we wanted to perform against Dundalk, we were second best," confessed Chambers, who endured a rough evening as a makeshift full-back chasing the impressive Daryl Horgan.

With Greg Bolger suspended, it's likely that he will return to his natural midfield berth tonight.

"Since that game, we've been chomping at the bit. We came in on the Saturday morning and had a chat amongst ourselves," he said.

"It wasn't a major sit-down. I wouldn't say it was clear-the-air discussions. We just had a chat, as a group, walking out to training. We know that ourselves that we need to be better. In a way, it was people stating the obvious more or less.

"But we're looking as a group to put on a performance because we've not played anywhere near the level that we can."

Chambers is in his second spell with Pat's, with a second stint at Rovers sandwiched in between, and he is well used to the atmosphere that accompanies the south Dublin clashes.

The traffic between the clubs has built the tension levels, and the two meetings between the teams this term have lacked quality.

Rovers triumphed on the opening day of the league in a game ruined by the elements, while the scoreless draw in Dublin 8 a fortnight ago was marred by an absence of entertainment.

"This might be different," suggested the 28-year-old. "It's a cup game, you've got the option of a replay if it goes to a draw, so people might be a bit more inclined to go for it.

"It should be lively. The fans on both sides will let the opposite players know what they think of them, as usual.

"From our point of view, we just need to get back to basics and playing good football. I can't put my finger on why we've struggled with our consistency.

"I wouldn't say our whole season hinges on this. We still have Europe, we still have European spots to fight for.

"But realistically, in the league, are Dundalk going to lose six games? This is the cup and our fans want to retain it and it's great to have such a big game early in the competition. Everything points, hopefully, to a good night."

The other all-Premier Division showdown in the second round takes place at the Carlisle Grounds tonight with Bray welcoming Limerick to Wicklow.

Martin Russell's visitors will be particularly keen to avoid a replay as it would mean one more date at Jackman Park on Monday when they are desperate to begin the build-up to their first night back at Market's Field next Friday.

Concentrate

"I don't think that (replay) suits us," said Russell, whose young side are propping up the Premier Division table. "But if it has to be it has to be. We'll be ready for it, but ultimately you would like to get through the tie at the first go and then concentrate on your next game.

Dundalk host Shelbourne at Oriel Park while Cork City travel to take on improving Wexford Youths.

"They are second in the First Division, a hard-working team and physically strong, you underestimate anyone and you will get knocked out," warned City boss John Caulfield.

Irish Independent

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