Re-start Club Previews: St. Patrick's Athletic

Sat, Jul 25 2020

Richmond Park Credit: Paul Dolan (ETPhotos)

Club: St Patrick’s Athletic

Manager: Stephen O’Donnell 

Highest league goalscorer: Billy King, Ronan Hale, Chris Forrester (1 goal each)

Current position: 4th

How we thought they would do for the 2020 season

This season looked to be a promising one for the Inchicore outfit and could yet live up to its billing. With manager Stephen O’Donnell settling in for his first full season in charge and a host of new singings joining their ranks in the spring, Pat’s look in healthier shape for the 2020 campaign than they have been in a couple of years now. 

Although they have managed just two wins and three goals from the opening four rounds, O’Donnell has expressed his contentment with the level of performance from his possession orientated side and like many, expects their endeavours to transform into goals once the team begin to familiarise themselves more and more with one another in the coming months.

A European place is no doubt the ambition and on paper this is a side more than capable of achieving it. 

How they did in the opening part of the season

Tied on six points with Shelbourne and Waterford but sitting pretty in fourth place, the opening to the season has shown that even though Pat’s are yet to gel in 2020 it is highly unlikely that the bottom half of the league table will cause this team packed with Premier Division talent such as Robbie Benson, Chris Forrester and Jamie Lennon much bother moving forward as they can only improve and improve from here.

Two wins and two losses is not the start the Richmond Park faithful would have been hoping for but little more could have been expected in the infancy of this new side that has been assembled following the signing of nine new players in the off season. The best is yet to come.

Moment of the season so far

Chris Forrester’s goal against Sligo Rovers would have put a smile on every St Patrick’s Athletic supporter’s face. The once golden boy of League of Ireland football has had a tough time both personally and professionally in the past few years but the former Peterborough captain has shown glimpses of returning to his old majestic self this year with his finish against Sligo Rovers another reminder of the composure that the 27-year-old possesses.

A confident Forrester could be a gamechanger for Stephen O’Donnell’s troops so it will be fascinating to keep a watchful eye over the midfielder once domestic action restarts. 

Stand out player so far this season

Though the ambition of the group has been put on display in their opening four rounds through their expansive set-up, it has yet to fully click in a way that has allowed individuals to express their full potential in these early stages.

One new face that has nonetheless shown bursts of excitement is Scottish winger Billy King with his nippy dribbles and superb finish against Cork demonstrating why he has lined out for the likes of Rangers, Dundee and the Scottish under-21 side before linking up with the Saints.

If the talented Pat’s midfield trio of Benson, Forrester and Lennon can unlock defences to create one-on-one chances for the likes of King and Hale they will be in for a hell of season. 

Squad changes during lockdown

Paul Cleary went on loan from the Saints to Wexford back in February 2020 but the Covid-19 pandemic cut short his time there and he has returned to his parent club now. 

What they need to do in the restart

Training every day and gelling on a Friday night until everything clicks into place is the best this Pat’s team can do for the moment with the club’s appointment of manager and recruitment of players both looking remarkably promising and positive for the campaign ahead.

After ten games Stephen O’Donnell will either be thrilled with his free-flowing band of ballers or left pondering tactical or personal changes to his team to spark a change for the first time in his managerial career. Its all difficult to call at the moment but will no doubt make a highly interesting case study to follow in the season ahead.

Where we see them finishing

Fourth 

Who will they face in the FAI Cup?

Finn Harps (Away) 

First post-lockdown league fixture

Dundalk (Away)