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Kavanagh sets sights on Euro glory

THE SOUTHERN Icelandic island of Vestmannaeyjar doesn't exactly trip off the tongue, but the St Patrick's Athletics faithful could be cursing the unpronounceable Nordics come full-time at Richmond Park tonight.

IBV is the more manageable version of the visitors, who carry a 1-0 lead to Inchicore and, on the evidence of the first leg, look well capable of adding an away goal.

But Pete Mahon's Saints reckon they can breach a rearguard that creaked in Reykjavik last week and keep a clean sheet at the same time.

The forward partnership of Daryl Kavanagh and Danny North has been the strongest element of the Saints this season. The duo -- who are housemates as well as striking partners -- have scored 17 league goals between them.

The Saints have a good recent record in Europe, but much has changed since the teams of Johnny McDonnell and Jeff Kenna went toe-to-toe with the likes of Steaua Bucharest, Hertha Berlin and Krylya Sovetov.

Mahon is operating on a significantly reduced budget these days and all of the players are part-timers. Tonight's opponents are full-time, but St Pat's remain confident they can advance.

In the first leg, Kavanagh hit the bar and Derek Doyle had a header cleared off the line.

Tipp native Kavanagh said: "It's a big step up to play in Europe and I think we needed to be more clinical over there because we definitely could have got something out of the game," he said.

"I have to work on that part of my game but I still think that we have a good chance of going through."

Mahon was full of praise for the Icelandic side's movement and Kavanagh and his team-mates know that they will have to be at full concentration throughout.

"You can't afford to switch off in these games," he said. "There was a few times when we let runners go and we nearly got punished."

St Pat's will know if a daunting long-haul trip to east Kazakhstan will be their reward for victory as Shakhtar Kharagandy's game with Koper kicks off at 3.0.

Dave Mulcahy is still a doubt, but he is likely to start alongside captain Stephen Bradley, who has been struggling with a tooth abscess.

St Pat's v IBV Vestmannaeyjar,

Richmond Park, 7.45

Irish Independent