ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC look set to add to their growing reputation when they face first division side Kildare County in the quarter-final of the FAI Carlsberg Cup at Richmond Park tonight (7.45 ko).
St Pats will take a six-games unbeaten run into a tie that should provide them with a convincing win and further evidence that they are set to emerge as the outstanding team of the season.
They have already laid substantial claims to that high billing with the League Cup already on proud display at Richmond Park and a growing challenge for the League Championship well underway. It would seem the biggest danger to their ambitions of further success is a risk of over-confidence.
Manager Eamonn Collins is determined he will not let this happen. He began yesterday by “talking-up” the danger presented by Kildare County, despite their recent change of manager when Dermot Keely left for Derry City. Said Collins: “We know it won't be easy against Kildare. I have watched them three times of late and they have won four of their last five games.
“They have plenty of experience with players like Barry O'Connor, Marc Kenny and Gareth Cronin in their team. Look what happened to Shelbourne in the last round against Sligo Rovers. We will need to be at our best to avoid something like that happening.”
St Pats have every reason to believe that fortune is set to smile on them this season. No sooner did they sign the former UCD centre-half, Clive Delaney, than they lost the outstanding Colm Foley to illness. He was hospitalised with acute food poisoning.
Delaney slipped comfortably into his position last weekend against Shamrock Rovers but there is a slight complication tonight because Delaney was not signed on time to play in this round of the Cup.
St Pats will also be without winger Keith Fahy, who must serve a one-match ban. Defender Stephen Quigley misses out with an ankle ligament injury. Paul Donnelly is hoping to come through a late fitness test on a stomach muscle injury but midfielder Davy Byrne has still not recovered from his ankle ligament problem.
Kildare have also been enjoying a good season in the first division because they are currently lying second and nurturing hopes of promotion. They are at a disadvantage, however, because their experienced winger Shay Zellor is almost certainly ruled out with an ankle injury.
A further complication is that goalkeeper Danny O'Leary is cup-tied as he played for Monaghan United in the first round against Skerries Town before joining the club. Tadhg Murphy takes over in goal.
Kildare’s new boss, Eric Hannigan, has a difficult task here and although his charges showed their cup-fighting qualities in knocking out Crumlin United and Cherry Orchard in the previous rounds, they know that playing St Pats is a big task.
The incentive for St. Pats is to capitalise upon their good run of form and hope they can maintain it to bring their long run without a Cup win to a halt. They have not won the Cup in 42 years and Collins would love to bring that losing sequence to a finish this season.
Meanwhile Shamrock Rovers have pledged to root out the hooligan element among their supporters, following the ugly scenes that marred their recent Dublin derby clash with Bohemians at Richmond Park.
Bohemians won the match 2-1, but the result was overshadowed by the actions of a group of Rovers “supporters” who attacked a bus full of Bohemians fans, throwing stones and bottles, which left several people injured.
Following an investigation by the eircom League Security Committee, no charges are to be brought against Rovers, but in a statement the club spelt out their intention to deal with the small minority of supporters seemingly intent on causing trouble.
The statement read: “The actions of these people is abhorrent to the board of Shamrock Rovers and the true fans of the club. This behaviour will not be tolerated and the perpetrators of these violent acts will be identified, reported to the authorities and banned from all Shamrock Rovers games.
“It is evident that we have a serious problem with a small number of our supporters and we will work with the FAI, eircom league and the Garda Siochana to solve this problem. It is our intention to provide a secure, safe and pleasant atmosphere at all our games and we will work diligently until we have achieved our objectives.”