‘Pat’s lack winning mentality’ -- Sean O'Connor
Hoops winger O’Connor adds spice to Dublin derby by declaring his desire for silverware made leaving Inchicore an easy decision
SHAMROCK ROVERS winger Sean O'Connor has accused his former club St Patrick's Athletic of lacking a winning mentality.
The 29-year-old made the move from Inchicore to Tallaght for the second time in his career during the winter and says that the motivation behind his transfer was silverware.
O'Connor, who faces his former team-mates tonight, believes that he can win things in green and white hoops, something he thinks is beyond Liam Buckley and his old team-mates at Richmond Park.
The Pat's manager came under fire from former Shelbourne and Drogheda midfielder Stuart Byrne this week on RTE's 'MNS' programme.
Byrne asserted his belief that the former Rovers player was not the right man to deliver success for St Pat's and O'Connor backed the pundit's views.
"I think the ambition of the club (Shamrock Rovers) is bigger than at Pat's," he said. "I was listening to Stuart Byrne on 'MNS' the other night and he was saying the same as I felt that when you are with the club. It just feels that you are always challenging but never have a winning mentality.
"I think success breeds more success. Rovers have been successful in the last couple of years and even the players who came in before the success had won things.
"I can't really put my finger on what it is, it just felt that way when I was at St Pat's. We were always going to be there or thereabouts but not getting across the line to win something.
"I think we have a stronger squad this year and most of the St Pat's lads would agree with that as well."
O'Connor is well aware of what awaits him when he runs out at Tallaght Stadium this evening, having gone up against his former club before.
However, he says that the abuse he receives is not limited to the terraces as he has been confronted near his home in a predominantly St Pat's area of Ballyfermot.
"You expect that (grief) all the time," he said. "You get that at most grounds anyway. If you are not getting grief you are probably doing something wrong.
"That won't really bother me anyway. I'm expecting it and I've got grief since I've signed for Rovers because I live in a predominantly Pat's area. It wouldn't really bother me that much, to be honest.
"You'd get a little bit of it walking down the street. Some of it is friendly stuff, some of it is a little bit borderline – you'd want to knock them out!
"People can express their views in whatever way they want to, but I'm a Rovers player now and it's not going to change. You just have to get on with it.
"If you are in a job, getting paid X amount and somebody else comes along and offers you more money, you are obviously going to take it. It's not rocket science.
"In this league, most players are getting only one-year deals so you have to take the best offer."
Meanwhile, after the thrill of their opening-day bow at Thomond Park, Limerick return to more normal surroundings when they face Drogheda United at Hunky Dorys Park.
The Louth men have made no secret of their desire to move and their future plans still revolve around a new stadium. Limerick midfielder Joe Gamble (pictured below) can understand why.
Last Sunday's Munster derby with Cork City drew a smaller crowd than originally anticipated due to freezing temperatures and the match being moved from Friday to Sunday for TV purposes, but the 3,500 attendance that may have looked relatively sparse in the 26,000 capacity arena would pack the rafters in the majority of Airtricity League venues.
It is a window to the future as far as the 31-year-old is concerned. Gamble's logic is simple: it's better for players, and better for supporters.
The facilities at Thomond allowed him to bring his two kids (aged four and two) to a match for the first time. Taking them to their old rented base in Jackman Park simply wasn't an option. "Jackman is fit for bombing really," said Gamble, with trademark matter-of-factness. "You may as well throw a grenade in there and blow it up or else do it up properly.
"Why would you, as a fan, go down there to watch a game on a s****y tight bobbly pitch?
"It makes a massive difference for players, too. Without even realising it, you're more motivated when you're on a better pitch, with better facilities. You feel more like a footballer.
"People said it mightn't be a good idea because the ground could be half empty. But what League of Ireland club could turn down the chance to play in a facility like that week after week?
"You're enticing corporate people to come, just like with other sports. It's an entertainment package and you can't invite people along if there's s**t facilities, no drinks, no hot food."
Gamble, who has tasted the highs and lows of the league in an eventful career, feels that the professional set-up put in place by owner Pat O'Sullivan will lead to brighter days on Shannonside, with manager Stuart Taylor recruiting some talented players.
"We do things properly here," enthused Gamble. "We train constantly, get proper food after training, there's a gym set-up. If you come to work and the facilities are s**t, then you're not going to get the best from people; it's not productive.
"There's a buzz here now, and that's because we have the right environment to work in. This club is going to grow."
Shamrock Rovers v St Patrick's Athletic
Live, RTE 2, 7.35