ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC face Hannover 96 in a glamour European tie at Tallaght Stadium tonight.
Having seen off Bosnian side Siroki Brijeg in the last round thanks to Christy Fagan’s extra-time heroics at Richmond Park last week, the Saints progressed to a Europa League third round qualifier with the Bundesliga outfit.
The Germans qualified for the competition for the first time in nearly two decades last season and went on to reach the quarter-finals – eventually going out to eventual winners Atletico Madrid.
They are currently in the middle of pre-season but despite that, Pat’s manager Liam Buckley doesn’t believe they will be suffering from rustiness tonight.
“The Bundesliga is a top league in Europe,” Buckley told RTE Sport’s David Kelly. “You can make comparisons with Spain, England, Germany and Italy. You get Bayern Munich in finals and Borussia Dortmund will play in Champions League this year.
To have qualified (for the Europa League) two years in a row tells you they’re a reasonable outfit. They’ve had a few injuries but we think we’ll know their starting XI more or less.
The first leg had to be moved to Shamrock Rovers’ ground as Richmond doesn’t meet UEFA standards for a third round qualifier and while Buckley would clearly have preferred to play on home soil, he was eager to focus on the positives.
“It’s a disappointment, that said we’re still in Dublin and we’ve a good record up in Tallaght. Down here creates it’s own atmosphere and it’s unique in that it’s so tight. But look it, it is what it is and we’re looking forward to the game up there.
We’ve worked extremely hard in the first couple of rounds. We don’t intend on giving that up easy on Thursday night.”
At their media briefing yesterday, Pat’s unveiled new signing Vinny Fatherty, who has returned to the club. The 25-year-old striker spent a year in Inchicore before relocating to Australia and playing for Melbourne side the Whittlesea Zebras.
On the Galway native, Buckley added: “We felt we needed to bring in another forward with Stephen O’Flynn’s rib injury. I’m delighted to welcome him in and I’m sure he’ll be a great addition to our group.”