Monday 11 November 2019

'The whole set-up of it is farcical' - St Pat's boss Stephen O'Donnell blasts fixture schedule in quest for Europe

St Patrick's Athletic head coach Stephen O'Donnell is pictured during the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division win over Derry City at Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium in Derry. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
St Patrick's Athletic head coach Stephen O'Donnell is pictured during the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division win over Derry City at Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium in Derry. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Stephen Bennett

St Patrick's Athletic manager Stephen O'Donnell has taken a swipe at the League of Ireland's end-of-season play-off scheduling, saying it gives Derry City an unfair advantage in their quest for Europe.

St Pat's put themselves in with a shout of grabbing a Europa League spot, courtesy of last night's 3-1 Premier Division win at the Ryan McBride Brandwell stadium, closing the gap on the Candystripes to two points with one game remaining.

St Pat's recovered from a David Parkhouse goal to claim victory, thanks to a Chris Forrester equaliser and a late brace from substitute James Doona.

With the final round of Premier Division fixtures on Friday, the Saints travel to face champions Dundalk, while Derry only need a point at home to Finn Harps to guarantee fourth spot and a place in next season's Europa League.

Harps, however, have a promotion/relegation play-off first leg clash against either Drogheda United or Cabinteely next Monday and O'Donnell feels the Donegal side will focus on that game rather than Friday's fixture.

"Finn Harps are obviously going to rest all their players, something you can't blame them for but just the planning, how there's such a big play-off game three days after the last game of the season is farcical to be honest," O'Donnell told RTE after last night's win.

"If I was Finn Harps manager I'd do the same but the whole set-up of it is farcical.

"So, do you have a case where Derry are going to play a really diluted, watered down Finn Harps team on Friday?

"It's not ideal but I suppose we just have to concentrate on ourselves and get ourselves ready for the game on Friday against Dundalk."

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