- Thursday April 20th, 2017 @ 17:31
PREVIEW: Buckley & Desmond Ready To Face Leaders Cork
St Patrick's Athletic host SSE Airtricity League leaders Cork City on Friday night in Richmond Park as the Dubliners aim to be the first side to defeat the Leesiders in the league (kick-off 7.45pm).
Friday's league game will be the first meeting between the sides coming up after the two sides were drawn to face each other in Wednesday's EA Sports Cup Quarter-Final draw.
The Saints will be hoping for a repeat result from their last meeting against John Caulfield's side when they picked up a 3-1 home league win against the Rebel Army last October thanks to goals from Christy Fagan, Sam Verdon and a Conan Byrne penalty.
In team news, Pat's remain without the services of striker Christy Fagan with a hamstring injury, while former Cork City defender Darren Dennehy also misses out for the Saints with an ankle injury.
The Manager has been speaking to StPatsFC.Com ahead of Friday's game, and says a number of players took their opportunity to impress in the EA Sports Cup penalty shootout win over Bray Wanderers on Monday.
"I'm delighted to be into the quarter finals and to keep our chances of winning the competition for a third time in a row alive. The boys played quite well and I felt if either team was going to win it in normal time or extra time it was going to be us."
"It took penalties in the end and it's not the first time we've needed a shootout to get through in the cup. The boys took their kicks well and we'll move on into the quarter finals against Cork."
Buckley says the EA Sports Cup has been a good competition over the last years, not just in terms of success but also in mixing some younger players into the team along with the senior ones.
"We've used the EA Sports Cup well over the last three years with a good mix of some younger players who did really well on Monday and our experienced players too."
The Saints beat Cork on penos at this stage of the competition on the way to winning it in 2015, as Liam explains.
"We played well in Turner's Cross that evening and we'll be planning to do that again in the quarter final. If we are going to win any competition this season, we'll need to beat the best teams and win in places like Cork. For now, we're
focused on the league game against them tomorrow night before we worry about the cup further down the line."
Cork are top of the table with nine wins from their nine league matches, so what does Liam expect from the game?
"Cork are on a really good run of results at the moment and are the team to beat. We're obviously looking to get a result ourselves and if we perform to the levels we are capable of, we've got a good chance to do that. We played well in Galway but let in a last minute equaliser and against Bray and we'll need to improve on that again tomorrow night to take a result out of the game."
"O've seen Cork a couple of times this season, they are strong outfit and have got Sean Maguire up front scoring lots of goals. No doubt our lads will be up for the game, we trained well today and are hoping to be the first team to beat them this season."
Liam says keeping Sean Maguire quiet could be on the keys to victory.
"Sean has been fantastic this season, he's one of their star performers and I know our defenders are looking forward to the challenge of keeping him and their other players quiet, they are far from a one man team but Sean will chase every lost cause and is dangerous in the box so we'll need to keep an eye on him for sure."
Buckley wants the focus to be on his team and how they can perform in the game.
"We've been getting better with each game and once we can put all the different parts of our performance together, we'll begin to pick up more points and we need to start that against Cork."
"Momentum is very important in football and in any sport really and if we can pick up three points tomorrow, it will give us some more confidence heading into the game in Derry next weekend."
"Given our league position, of course it's an important game. There are no easy games in this league and obviously playing the league leaders will be a big test. Football is all about overcoming different challenges, we'll try our best to do that on Friday and get a result from the game."
For Saints' player Lee Desmond, the prospect of facing Cork is one he too is relishing like his manager as he feels the side can go into the game full of belief that a result can be picked up.
"Playing the league leaders, the general consensus is that they are always going to win and the pressure is off us. The only pressure we're under is the pressure we put on ourselves, and we're going out to win the game against Cork."
"We've watched a bit of how Cork have been playing lately and know that they are strong from one to eleven so we know what they are capable of. That said though, the boys are raring to go so we've just got to concentrate on ourselves."
"Our results have picked up in recent weeks and that's because we've worked hard to get the basics right and have cut out errors we had been making. We know that if we continue to apply that in our performances we'll pick up more results so that's the aim heading into Friday's game against Cork."