When it comes to supporting St Patrick’s Athletic, and trying to make sense of the club’s vexed relationship with the FAI Cup, gallows humour has long-since become the default setting.
“They tell you not to enter it, that’s the kind of attitude they have,” says defender Ger O’Brien of the Inchicore side’s infamous 53-year wait for a follow-up to their 1961 triumph. “But listen, it’s great, you want to be at a club where there is pressure and there is pressure on us now.”
The reigning league champions might be about to surrender that title but, as hot favourites to overcome First Division Finn Harps in their FAI Ford Cup semi-final in Richmond Park on Sunday, Pats are once again just a game away from a big trip to the Aviva.
And if they require any more incentive, they need only reflect on the disappointment of their last outing at the national stadium, when they lost the 2012 final 3-2 to Derry City.
“I remember talking to you guys (in the media) afterwards and I said we need to use this as a platform,” 30-year-old O’Brien recalls. “And we went on and we won the league. A lot of that group are still the same. And a lot in that dressing room have lost cup finals. And it’s not a nice feeling.
“We’re in the club that probably has the biggest romance with the cup — they hate it but they love it. They love the fact that someone has got to do it. As Liam (Buckley) says, someone has got to do it eventually so why not this year’s group?
“It’s a big game on Sunday, a tough game. We’re going in as favourites, there is no doubt about that. Finn Harps are underdogs but we have to perform to beat them. We can’t have any mistakes, no slip-ups and, please God if we do, we’ll win the final. Hopefully this group will use the memories of 2012 to spur us on.”
Pat’s are already well-placed to secure European football next year via a third-place finish in the league but that won’t be enough to make this season feel like a success, according to O’Brien.
“You want that feeling of being in that final, you want to be sitting here talking about playing in front of a big crowd in the Aviva and watching on television, lifting a trophy that this club hasn’t lifted since 1961,” he says.
“For me, winning a cup and finishing third in the league will be a successful season. Finishing third and not winning the cup, you know you get European football and some people will look at it as successful, but we’ll be disappointed. It’s very important that we finish the season with some silverware.”
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