Wednesday 18 October 2017

'Jittery' Sligo feeling heat, insists Saints star O'Connor

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

SEAN O'CONNOR believes that all the pressure is on Sligo Rovers ahead of Saturday's League of Ireland showdown at the Showgrounds.

And the St Patrick's Athletic winger feels there is evidence that the title favourites are starting to feel the heat.

The Bit O'Red are still odds-on to claim the league crown -- unsurprisingly so, given that they hold a six-point lead with three games remaining.

Nevertheless, the second-placed Saints know that a win in the top-two battle would dramatically alter the complexion of the run-in.

While there is excitement in Inchicore after Pat's comfortably beat Dundalk to book a place in the FAI Ford Cup final, O'Connor's preference is for league success, considering the effort it involves across the course of the campaign.

Two draws in three games for Sligo, including a nervy ending in Cork last Friday, have increased the confidence level in the Dubliners' camp.

"They seem to be getting a bit jittery now in the last few games," said O'Connor, who scored against Dundalk. "Hopefully we can put them under a bit of pressure on Saturday.

Winning

"If we get three points up there, I think winning the league will be back on for us. They've got to go to Drogheda and then Shamrock Rovers in the last game of the season and Rovers might need something to get into Europe.

"I think the pressure is on them, really. We're six points behind, and we're not really expected to come out and win the league now.

"Obviously I'd rather be six points ahead but when you're chasing there's not as much pressure on. We need to go for a win in Sligo. If we draw, it's realistically all over."

Asked whether he'd prefer to win the league or the cup, the 28-year-old opted for the league.

"I know the fans would probably pick the cup because it's been so long since they've won it (51 years), but I'd rather win the league. That's your bread and butter, isn't it?"

O'Connor will be very interested in the outcome of tomorrow's semi-final replay between Shelbourne and Derry City at Tolka Park.

A boyhood Saints fan, he would prefer Derry to come out on top as he has painful memories of being involved in the Candystripes' dramatic 4-3 extra-time win over Pat's in the 2006 decider.

"Players will probably say that revenge isn't in their minds, but it's in my mind," said O'Connor. "I'd love to get Derry. I remember losing in 2006 and it obviously wasn't a nice feeling.

"I don't want to repeat that on November 4 when the final is on. I'd like to get one over on Derry."

Irish Independent

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