Mahon fears Irish clubs are slipping behind European rivals
PETE Mahon has warned that Irish clubs can no longer compete at the same level in Europe as they have done for the last decade.
The St Patrick's Athletic manager believes that the reversion to part-time football at most Airtricity League clubs has seen a drop-off in standards and as a result he reckons expectations need to be lowered.
The Saints take on Icelandic side IBV Vestmannaeyjar in the Europa League at Richmond Park tomorrow evening trailing 1-0 to the full-time outfit. Mahon reckons his side have a good chance of success, but overall he believes the close calls and victories of the last 10 years may no longer be possible.
"I think we should be more realistic," he said. "We had great chances when the teams were full-time. Bohs, Shels and Pat's all had runs (in Europe). Those were the good days of full-time football.
"The gap is going to widen because we're still playing the same amount of games, but the players are part-time and it has to take its toll eventually."
Mahon's main injury concern is over midfielder Dave Mulcahy, who is struggling with a knee injury and with Dundalk up next for the title chasers, he will only play in one of the two games.
Mahon will likely risk the Kilkenny native tomorrow, with a likely trip to Kazakhstan the dubious reward for victory.
They'll know their opponents before kicking off with IBV, with Shakhtar Karagandy carrying an away goal into their second leg against Koper of Slovenia. That game is poised at 1-1.
"I think we have to go for Thursday really," he said. "It's European competition and we want to try to stay in it as long as we can.
"We have to give ourselves every chance of winning, first of all, then we can contemplate how we're going to deal with it."