IT'S THE meanest defence in Irish football, and Sligo Rovers midfielder Alan Kirby feels that their defenders deserve all the credit for the Bit O' Red's superb start to the season.
Sligo went joint top of the Premier Division table thanks to Saturday's 2-0 win at home to St Patrick's Athletic, on a night when former Pats man Kirby was the Sligo hero, scoring both goals.
But it's the back four who have really built the platform for Paul Cook's side as the defence have conceded just one goal in eight games this term.
"The attacking players get all the headlines and all the credit, but the defence deserves to get praise for all they have done, they've been brilliant," said Kirby ahead of Sligo's next big test -- tonight, at home to Shamrock Rovers in the first leg of their Setanta Sports Cup semi-final.
"All of the lads who played at the back have been excellent for us. Saturday was a good result but tonight is a new test with Rovers coming to Sligo. We have to stand up to them and show them what we are capable of."
Kirby, a close season signing from Sporting Fingal, added: "I've been lucky to win a few things in my career, but I haven't won the league or the Setanta Cup yet, and I would like to complete the set of medals before I quit.
"I'm 33 now so I don't know how long more I will go on, but we have a great chance of doing something with Sligo and winning the Setanta Cup would mean a lot to me."
Rovers start tonight without Gary Twigg as their top scorer picked up a hamstring injury in Friday's defeat to Bray.
"Obviously, we were disappointed with the result against Bray on Friday night, but we'll just be looking to move on and turn our form back around on Monday night. The lads will be glad to have another game so quickly to get that one out of the systems," said Rovers boss Michael O'Neill.
SLIGO RVS v SHAMROCK RVS, LIVE SETANTA IRELAND (KO 7.45)