Wednesday 22 May 2019

Conor Kenna urges St Pat's to tie down squad in push to retain title

Conor Kenna: Hoping for European progress
Conor Kenna: Hoping for European progress
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

ST PATRICK'S Athletic captain Conor Kenna has urged the club's hierarchy to keep their league-winning players together with a view to retaining the title next year.

The Saints set off celebrations in Inchicore by wrapping up the title with a win over defending champions Sligo Rovers on Sunday.

It's their first league win since 1999 and first trophy in a decade, and Kenna, their longest-serving player, wants further success. However, with the majority of players out of contract, manager Liam Buckley has work to do in the coming weeks.

The manager is determined to make a push in Europe, but Kenna stressed that a second successive title should also be a high priority.

"Liam has to try and tie the players down now," said Kenna, who is keen to extend his stay. "You've seen the quality that's in the squad this year and if we could add to that group, it would be great.

"We've had European runs in recent years which have been brilliant, but the league is the bread and butter and we want to go and win that again."

Kenna (29) said that bitter disappointment at the end of 2012 drove the current group onto better things. Last winter, they lost assistant boss Trevor Croly and three key players after their title charge fell in the home straight and they lost the FAI Cup final.

Two games into this campaign, a hammering at the hands of Croly's Shamrock Rovers side led to premature conclusions being drawn about their ability to challenge this term. Hoops winger Sean O'Connor, who made the move with Croly, asked if Saints' had the ambition.

Last night, amid the celebrations, Kenna sent O'Connor a picture on Twitter of his old shirt with 'Ambition?!' written in marker underneath

"We didn't play well in Tallaght, we knew that," said Kenna. "But we were confident in our own ability. That was just a day where it didn't work out. People from outside the club made comments, that's what they are paid to do. We knew inside the dressing-room that we were good enough.

"Last year, we went close to the league down in Sligo, and we knew if we kept most of the players together, we could challenge again."

Kenna works in Tallaght and joked that he is tempted to wear his medal to remind Shamrock Rovers fans of the achievement.

"I've been around long enough but I haven't won anything before this," he said. "It's a proud moment to do it as captain."

Irish Independent

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