ST PAT'S boss Liam Buckley insists that his side are not feeling any pressure as the 2012 Premier Division title race heads into the final stages.
After a 2-1 win over reigning champions Shamrock Rovers on Tuesday night, second-placed Pats are in action again tomorrow and know that a win away to Drogheda United would put them only three points behind long-time leaders Sligo Rovers, though Sligo can, of course, re-establish their six-point lead with a win at home to struggling Derry City on Saturday.
The title could even be won in two weeks' time when Sligo host St Pats at the Showgrounds, but Buckley believes that a string of "tricky" ties could see the league race go down to the wire.
"Why wouldn't we be optimistic at this stage? We are in the mix and it will be an exciting run-in," says Buckley, whose side also have an FAI Cup semi-final to look forward to.
"We're not under pressure, we are looking forward to it. We have been third and fourth over the last two months. I don't know where we'll finish, whether that will be first or fourth, but we are enjoying it.
"They are all tough games and I can't wait. As soon as Tuesday's game against Rovers was finished I said to the lads, 'Now we're preparing for Friday'.
"We have done nothing yet but we are still in the mix. I know we have to play better than we did against Shamrock Rovers on Tuesday. We have built our game on passing and linking the play, and we have to get back to doing that better. That has been our game all season but it has dipped off and we need to get our legs back. We will have to work hard tomorrow as we have a few tired bodies," added the Pats boss.
"We have a tough game away to Drogheda tomorrow. But Sligo have a tricky game against Derry, they are away to Cork and it won't be easy down there. They have to play us, Drogheda and Shamrock Rovers, so no easy games there. They will have to scrap to pick up points
"The Derry game on Saturday is a tricky one for Sligo. That's a local derby up there and they are also away to Cork. Cork are the best footballing side who have come to Inchicore to play us.
"The critical game could be our game away to Sligo next month, but before we get there we have to play Drogheda tomorrow."
Sligo's 0-0 draw with Bray Wanderers last weekend was the second time in four games that Ian Baraclough's side dropped points, but former Sligo player Buckley says he wasn't surprised at that result.
"Bray are dogged enough and they do pass the ball well. They can play badly and poorly and if they had more consistency in their game they'd be higher up the table," added the Pats boss, who hopes to recall Christopher Forrester and Kenny Browne to his squad for the trip to Drogheda.