- Thursday June 25th, 2015 @ 8:38
Clarke Looking Forward To Games Ahead
European adventures with the Saints are all too familiar to Brendan Clarke from his past experiences with the club, however the current Saints' number one admitted to still being excited at the prospect of another journey away with the Saints in the Europa League.
Liam Buckley's side were drawn with Latvian side Skonto Riga in Monday's Europa League first round draw, with the first leg to take place in the Latvian capital on July 2nd with the return leg fixed for Richmond Park at 7.45pm on July 9th.
Speaking to stpatsfc.com this week, Clarke was realistic in his outlook of the tie admitting that the Saints' players know that it will be a tough challenge against Skonto Riga, drawing from his past experience with Pat's in Latvia when he was an unused substitute in the club's first ever away win in Europe, a 1-0 victory over JFK Olimps thanks to a goal from current Guam international, Ryan Guy in 2008.
"I remember that win over in Riga well. It was a strange one for me as I was an unused sub that day, and the next day I agreed to join Sporting Fingal who were then managed by Liam Buckley at the time. It's funny how things like that happened looking back on it now," Clarke admitted.
"But it's a nice ground over there and we know it'll be warm over there when we play. No matter what the draw, no Irish has ever really gone into a European tie and had it easy so we know it'll a tough game.
It's good for the club and us players that it's not the hardest place to get to compared to past trips we've had so that's a bonus. In the first leg we'll be looking to go over there and keep things tight at the back, and if we can come away with a clean sheet that would be huge for us."
Clarke pointed out that the return to playing European football in Inchicore was a huge bonus for the players and management and pinpointed the 'Richmond factor' as being a something that could be crucial in progressing in Europe.
"Any time you get to play in your home ground, it's always an advantage. The atmosphere for European game though in particular cannot be replicated," Clarke told stpatsfc.com.
"We've had some huge wins there over the years. If you think back to the Siroki Brijeg game a few years ago, big moments happen for us in Richmond, think back to the great last ditch tackle Ger O'Brien made in that game."
"We've a long history of getting results at home in Inchicore. Good nights in Europe in Richmond Park are unforgettable, and we'll be hoping to create a few more."
However the Saints' netminder was keen to stress that while the prospect of European football was nice, Clarke's and the players' focus was solely on Longford Town on Friday night as the Saints' make their return back to SSE Airtricity League action following the mid-season break.
"It's really important that we play well on Friday and get the three points. We went into the break off the back of three good wins, so we've got to try now and pick up where we left off. We all had a few days off there so it was nice to re-charge the batteries, but we're all back into the routine now so we're focused on the game and getting the win."
Kick-off on Friday night for St Patrick's Athletic vs Longford Town is 8pm, with tickets on sale now from the St Pat's club offices on Emmet Road, Inchicore.