ST PATRICK'S Athletic have effectively ended the European ambitions of one club this week, and tonight the Saints have another team in their sights as Liam Buckley's side gear up for what could be a dream finish to the season.
Despite the fact that they put on a sub-par display, Pat's managed to get a 2-1 win over Shamrock Rovers on Tuesday night. It was a result which not only pushed Pat's into the top two in the league table but also left Rovers needing a miracle and a favour to qualify for Europe, as the reigning champions can realistically qualify for European football next season only if Pat's win the FAI Cup.
Having endured some sustained taunting by their Dublin rivals during Rovers' back-to-back league wins and European successes, it's the Saints supporters who are smirking these days, with the chance of a league and Cup double very much on the cards.
For a stab at the league, Pat's need to win their next game, away to fellow title-chasers Drogheda tonight, and Saints captain Conor Kenna says that his side intend to push on at the expense of their rivals.
"We went into the Rovers game on Tuesday knowing they were just behind us so we wanted to kill them off and we did that. Now we want to knock Drogheda out of contention as well, one team at a time," says the Saints defender.
"That's the way we are looking at it, trying to pick off the other teams one at a time. We have Drogheda tonight, then we play Sligo in two weeks' time and we'll see what position we are in by the time we play them. If we can win here tonight, it will put pressure on Sligo before they play tomorrow. We believed in ourselves all along so we have to go game by game and see if it's good enough.
"We're under no illusions about the game tonight, Drogheda is a tough place to go and we had a very hard game here the other week in the FAI Cup, they're in good form in the league and will be confident after winning the League Cup," added Kenna. Pat's did look sluggish during the midweek win over Rovers, possibly a consequence of fatigue as that was their 41st game of the season.
"Tiredness can't be a factor for us, we just didn't play well against Rovers on Tuesday. We didn't keep the ball well and we weren't at our best. We made things hard for ourselves with the way we played, so if we can keep the ball better in the next few games we can have a better chance," says Kenna. "We have had a lot of games this season but we have dealt with it well. We are coming strong and are on a good run of results now. We just need to keep it going."
Buckley says he may shake things up in his squad for the Drogheda game, with Kenny Browne and Christopher Forrester back in the squad.