STRIKER CHRISTY FAGAN says that St Patrick’s Athletic’s long wait for FAI Cup glory hasn’t brought any extra pressure from the Saints’ supporters.
It’s more than half a century since Pat’s last brought the cup home to Inchicore when they won the 1961 all-Dublin battle against northside rivals Drumcondra.
But since then, their record in the competition has been more tears than cheers as they made it back to the brink of success six times but fell agonisingly short in the final every time.
Now there is a new sense of optimism around Richmond Park following Liam Buckley’s maiden season in his second stint as manager. Pat’s finished a promising league campaign with a win against Shelbourne last Friday night, clinching third place and guaranteeing a European spot for 2013.
On Sunday, Buckley’s men have a chance to avenge the club’s most recent final heartache — a 4-3 extra-time defeat against Derry City in 2006 — when the sides meet again in the Aviva Stadium.
The fans have been very patient as the new manager and squad jelled this season, Fagan says, and there’s no reason why that will change this week.
“All season the fans have been great with us considering we’re a totally new bunch of lads, a different style of football,” the Dubliner told TheScore.ie. “They’ve been patient when we were a bit different to what they were used to watching.
They’ve not heaped any extra pressure on the team and it will be no different on Sunday. Everyone’s delighted we’ve got to the final.
Obviously, we all know. We’ve all been told the stories about the last time the club was in the cup final. But we’ll just be hoping we play as well as we have done all year and get the right result.
The bunting has already started to go up around Emmet Road ahead of Sunday’s game but Fagan says it shouldn’t be hard for the players to keep their excitement in check.
“I don’t think so, I think you just have to enjoy it. It’s a great game to look forward to.
“To play in a stadium like that, in front of a good crowd, I think you just have to enjoy it. Take it as it comes and take in the atmosphere that the fans create.”
Pat’s finished the season 16 points ahead of Derry in the league, but if they needed any reminder that form goes out the window, it came two weekends ago when goals from Simon Madden and David McDaid put Derry 2-0 before half-time in their cup final dress rehearsal.
Derry went on to win 2-1 and Fagan knows that if he and his team-mates start in the same sluggish manner again, they can expect the same outcome.
Two weeks ago, we went there and we just didn’t turn up. On Sunday, we just can’t afford to do that. We didn’t start up in the Brandywell and they took advantage in the first half to win.
If we go out Sunday with that sort of… I won’t say attitude, but frame of mind… I think we’ll get turned over.
We know everyone’s going to be up for it on Sunday. It’s a cup final, the biggest game of the season. It doesn’t take much to get you up for a game like that.
– Additional reporting by Sean Farrell