Wednesday 24 January 2018

We can't look back or we'll never end jinx -- Buckley

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

LOOK forward, not back. That's the message from Liam Buckley to his players as St Patrick's Athletic bid to end the most famous jinx in Irish football.

It's 51 years since the Inchicore club last tasted FAI Cup success, and they enter tomorrow's semi-final in Dundalk as the clear favourites to win the competition.

Numerous Saints teams have been in this position and failed, so Buckley wants to focus on the here and now and avoid discussion of the historical significance.

"If you look back, you'll never win it," he stressed. "Myself and Dave Campbell got together this group of players last Christmas.

"We know how football goes. You can play really well and lose; you can play poorly and win.

"There's only four left in the competition and we're one of them. I won't need to tell the lads how important it is for them as individuals. But we need to get our preparation exactly right."

Part of that process involved a trip to Scribblestown this week to use the Astro pitch owned by Leinster Senior League side Phoenix FC. It's not identical to the surface they will encounter at Oriel Park, but it will have given them a feel for it.

Dundalk enter this game as rank outsiders, even though they have beaten St Pat's in the league. They are already doomed to a relegation play-off at the end of the season. Indeed, were it not for Monaghan United's collapse, they could be facing up to life in the First Division next term.

Shelbourne travel to Derry for the other semi-final with midfielder Kevin Dawson hoping that inspirational striker Philip Hughes -- nicknamed 'Hugey' because of his waistline -- will repeat the quarter-final heroics that ended Shamrock Rovers' hopes of a day out in November.

"He's a goal machine," said Dawson. "People were questioning if he could step up to the Premier Division this year, but he's delivered."

Irish Independent

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