O'Brien craves another Aviva 'big day'
Published 01/10/2016 | 02:30
The last time St Pat's played in the last four of the FAI Cup, the players carried a significant weight of expectation on their shoulders. This time around, the pressure is of a different kind.
Two years ago, at the eighth time of asking, Pat's ended a 53-year wait for the trophy to return to Richmond Park and as they eye a return to the Aviva Stadium on November 6, standing in their way is a Cork City side who are looking to end their own nine-year barren run.
Pat's league campaign has been a huge disappointment and so much so that the FAI Cup offers them their only realistic route into Europe next season.
A midweek goalless draw with Sligo Rovers saw them slump to eighth in the table and if they are to attract players of a certain calibre to the club, European football is essential.
Saints added the EA Sports Cup to their trophy cabinet earlier this month with a brilliant second-half performance in Limerick that served as a reminder of just how clinical they are on their day.
Unfortunately for Pat's supporters, those 'days' have been few and far between and Cork arrive in Inchicore tomorrow still hoping to claim a league and cup double.
Pat's cup hoodoo may be over but their skipper Ger O'Brien knows the standards that are demanded of his side and that includes winning silverware regularly.
"We won the league in 2013 but there was a different feeling around the club when we won the cup in 2014," O'Brien explains.
"It was almost like a 'well done' pat on the back for 2013 but there was a 'thank you' when we won it in 2014 which is a big difference as a player when you're seeing men twice your age coming up to you. We had so many cup finals that we lost and I think that really struck home with the players. It's what is expected."
As pleasing as it was to win the EA Sports Cup, O'Brien admits that this is the one that Pat's really want.
It was Cork who dumped Saints out of the competition last year with a 4-0 hammering in the third round but O'Brien isn't reading anything into that.
"I think this one is huge, to be honest with you," the defender maintains.
"This is a big day. You get to play in the national stadium which obviously for players in the league, it doesn't come around that often.
"A club like Pat's, I can't even say the tradition of it but there was always a stigma around the cup. Obviously Rovers are dealing with that at the moment having gone so long without winning it.
"I think that's what makes it more special for us when you do win it. We have an opportunity again. We're two games away from winning it again.
"It has been a disappointing season on the field. As players, we haven't been good enough but we can put that right on Sunday.
"We need to turn up, we need to play and we need to make sure we use the ball better than we have done in previous weeks.
"We need to defend well because they are scoring plenty of goals at the moment. They are a good side and have been the bridesmaids in the last few years in the league and also in the cup.
"They have a good group of players down there and I'm sure they will come up to Dublin fancying their chances. We have just got to play the game as it is." O'Brien was speaking at the FIFA 17 Airtricity League of Ireland Club Pack launch