ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC
St Patrick’s Athletic will be looking to get the first full year of the Stephen O’Donnell reign off to a good start as they host Waterford on Friday evening at Richmond Park (kick-off is at 7.45pm).
The Saints have been busy during the League of Ireland off-season – bringing in as many as eight new recruits to the club.
In addition, there has also been a number of returning Saints – with one being defender Rory Feely who spoke ahead of Friday’s clash against his former club.
“It’s great to be back at Pat’s,” Feely said. “I have changed an awful lot since my first spell at the club.
“Coming up through the under 19 side, I would have played alongside the likes of Darragh Markey and played as a right winger.
“Now though, I'm more established as a defender and the time away from the club has been spent learning my trade.
“Ironically it was at Waterford so I'm looking to see a few familiar faces, but there has been a lot of changes with them so it will be a completely new team we play against.”
And Head Coach Stephen O’Donnell added; “Players and staff are really looking forward to get going.
“The staff are just like the players and chomping at the bit in the lead up to the opening game. The players have been doing a hard pre-season for five weeks now, so they are raring to go and get started.
“I'm delighted with the squad we have. All you can ask for in pre-season is attitude and application and from that end of it, I've been absolutely delighted,” O’Donnell said.
“With both the players that have been here and the players that have come in, they have all really put their shoulders to the wheel and worked hard and got themselves in good condition.
“That is what we are going to be demanding from the team and the squad: honesty of effort. That has been there in the pre-season and now we have to continue that on for the whole of the season.”
In terms of team news, the Inchicore outfit are expected to have no injuries to be concerned with.
Waterford begin their 2020 SSE Airtricity League Premier Division campaign on Friday evening with a trip to Richmond Park.
The game will have some added spice to it given the recent Europa League issues that shrouded the Blues last term.
And despite struggling for the most part on the road last term, Waterford generally performed well against the Saints last term – winning two in two at Richmond.
And with that in mind, Blues boss Alan Reynolds is hoping for that recent record to continue; “We’re all looking forward to the season kicking off this weekend and the trip to Richmond Park on Friday night.
“The lads have put in a good pre-season, and they are raring to go.
“You can play all the pre-season games you like, but nothing compares to walking out on a Friday night and hearing the fans getting behind you.
“A lot of the squad played here before or played against us so they are more than aware of how vocal our fans can be.
“We brought in a lot of new faces this season, and I’m delighted with what I have been able to sign.
“The lads that are here now are hungry to prove themselves, which will hopefully translate to good results for us as a team.
“We enjoyed our time in Inchicore last season and it was nice to come away from both games up there undefeated.
“They look like a different side to what we faced last year, and Stephen has brought in some great players. I’m sure they’ll be just as hungry as us to start the season with three points.”
In terms of team news – Waterford will be without both Tyreke Wilson and Will Fitzgerald for the Friday night encounter.
Referee: Sean Grant.
The Athletic have failed to beat Waterford in their previous two attempts at Richmond Park – with Alan Reynolds’ side racking up six points from a possible six on their last two trips to Inchicore.
The Blues last win away win coincidentally came at Richmond Park in October of 2019, as Michael O’Connor netted twice for the Munster side.
Meanwhile, this clash will see a number of new Saints take to the Richmond field for the first time in a competitive outing as a Pats player – with Jay McClelland, Conor Kearns ad Robbie Benson all looking to make their debuts.
St Patrick’s Athletic 8/15; Draw 11/4; Waterford 9/2.
St Patrick’s Athletic 2 - 0 Waterford
St Patrick’s Athletic
Injured: Tyreke Wilson, Will Fitzgerald.