Pat’s unfazed by Hertha test

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC manager Johnny McDonnell has expressed his delight at drawing Hertha Berlin in the first round proper of the UEFA Cup.

The German club came out of the hat alongside Pats after the Inchicore side had sensationally knocked out Sweden’s Elfsborg in the second qualifying round at Richmond Park on Thursday.

“It’s another great experience to look forward too and a great reward for everyone at the club,” said McDonnell. “We’re gong away to a top club who had 44,000 at their last home game and have a side full of Brazilians, Serbs, Nigerians. I will watch them (in Munich) on Sunday as they don’t play again until the 13th, which is too close to the first leg.

“It’s one of the biggest games in the history of the club and we’ll prepare properly. It’s going to be a huge task. They are third in the Bundesliga but they’ve only played two games, whereas we’re well into our season so that might help us.

“A lot of our players have played in big games, at international level and for their clubs, so this won’t faze them. And if we beat Hertha Berlin and get into the group stage of the UEFA Cup, it would be bigger than anything we could achieve through the league here. It would bring us to a different level, a new ball game.”

Pats chief executive Richard Sadlier said that the club have asked if they can defer their Setanta Sports Cup game on September 15, and also requested that their FAI Cup quarter-final against Sporting Fingal be put back a day to September 11.

However, there is still a question mark over the precise date for the UEFA Cup fixture pending agreement on television deals.

“The majority of fixtures will be played on Thursday the 18th and Thursday the 2nd,” said Sadlier. “Germany has six teams playing that week, and the TV stations want to divide up the coverage as much as possible, which means we could have to switch to a Tuesday or Wednesday. We are also in talks with Irish TV stations about covering the second leg.

“As for the second leg at home, The RDS is available on Thursday, October 2, and any other date that week if needs be. Discussions on the rent arrangements are on-going.”

Meanwhile, back in the domestic league, there are two Premier Division games today with a relegation six-pointer pitting Cobh Ramblers against Galway United at St Colman’s Park (7.45pm) and Sligo Rovers hosting Drogheda United at the Showgrounds (8pm).

The FAI also confirmed that Wexford Youths will host the 2008 eircom League of Ireland Cup final against champions, Derry City. The game will take place at Ferrycarrig on Saturday, September 27 (7.30pm) and will be televised live on Setanta Sports.

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