Stephen O'Donnell: 'Ronan has got off to a great start'

Tue, Apr 06 2021
Stephen O'Donnell's side are joint top of the table.

Stephen O'Donnell's side are joint top of the table. Credit: Eddie Lennon (ETPhotos)

Stephen O Donnell has said that there was a very ‘open feel’ to the 2021 league campaign.

Although we are only three games into the campaign, that has proved to be the case so far with St Patrick's Athletic sharing top spot in the league alongside Finn Harps and Longford

Last year’s Cup winners Dundalk and league runners up Bohemians are both in the lower half of the table meaning that nobody can take any game for granted.

At the club's weekly press conference the Pats boss said: "While it's early days yet, I think the open nature of the league will last longer than a lot of people expect.

"There will be a lot of intrigue around the fixtures and I think any team can beat any other team on any given weekend."

Pats have already drawn with last season’s league champions Shamrock Rovers, and beaten runners up Bohemians, however despite that very strong start he does not necessarily see themselves as title challengers this year

"We are only three games in, I think the table will look differently at the end of the season. We just want to improve week on week and see where that takes us.

"It sounds boring but we just take each game as it come. We know if we fall below a certain level we could get turned over, but we also know if we perform to our capabilities we can be very competitive."

New signing Ronan Coughlan has scored two goals in the first three games for Pats and he has added another dimension to the team this year. 

"We lacked goals last season, that was plain for all to see. We had the third lowest goals for record in the 18-game league (Pat’s only scored 14 goals last season) so Ronan (Coughlan) has got off to a great start in rectifying that for us.

"He is a good character, a model pro. He looks after his body very well."

"Big moments define good attacking players. In the Bohemians game it was very bitty for a long while from an attacker’s point of view but he was there when it mattered, scoring that vital goal in the 62nd minute.’’

Another player who impressed O Donnell last Saturday was 18-year-old Darragh Burns, who got his first start in the team having appeared as a sub in a few games at the latter end of last season. 

Burns, who came through Pat’s academy, has represented Northern Ireland at underage level as his dad hails from Belfast.

O Donnell had no qualms about pitching Burns in for a Dublin derby last weekend.

"Darragh had a very good season last year with the under 19s. Personality wise I had no doubts about him at all.

"He exudes confidence and nothing much fazes him. He is the kind of player who says bring it on, give me as many games as you can."

In relation to Pat’s next match, at home to Derry City, the former Dundalk player is under no illusions about the task ahead.

That is despite his side being joint top of the league and Derry are winless and pointless after two games and occupying bottom position. 

‘‘Derry have a lot of very good players and we are going to have to play very well to get anything from the game."

St Patricks Athletic take on Derry City at home in Richmond Park at the slightly earlier time of 17.45 pm on Friday April 9th.

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