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Thursday 8 December 2016

Euro chase for Hoops and Pats

Pat Fenlon. Photo: Sportsfile
Pat Fenlon. Photo: Sportsfile

As our cousins across the water prepare to vote on whether to leave or stay in Europe, another debate in Dublin tonight will have a big say in another European matter.

Form so far this season from Shamrock Rovers and St Patrick's Athletic suggests that they are unlikely to be in the shake-up for the league title, the Saints already 14 points off the pace, but both clubs harbour ambitions of European qualification, so the Dublin derby at Richmond Park could have a big bearing.

"If they win, they go ahead of us in the table, if we win we open up a gap over them, so we need to go there and try to win," says Rovers manager Pat Fenlon.

"We said at the start of the season that we needed to qualify for Europe, the same as Pat's and two or three other teams and that's still the target.

"In fairness to Cork and Dundalk they have both had a great start to the season, they deserve credit for that so we have to make sure that we're close enough to them come the end of the season in relation to Europe.

"Tonight should be a good game, I think everyone likes playing in Inchicore, it's a tight ground with the crowd right on top of you and we'll have a big support, it's a good chance for us to go and win the game. There are still a lot of points to be played for bur we need to win the game, simple as that, we can't lose any more matches."

The rival sets of fan can't afford much taunting on the back of last week's events, as Rovers dropped two points at home to Finn Harps on the same day as a 5-1 hammering for the Saints away to Bohemians.

"It was frustrating as we should have scored five or six goals, we should have won the game but we didn't and got punished in the end, we have to learn from it that you have to take your chances in games," he added.

"We had a lot of draws last season, if we'd turned even some of those draws into wins we'd have done a lot better in the league, but we've had too many defeats this year and that has to stop, it's something we need to work on."

The make-up of his squad is also something Fenlon (inset) wants to work on, but while he's keen to freshen things up, it's out of his hands for now.

"I have spoken to the club in the last week and we do need to bring some players in, but we need to move players on before we can do that," says Fenlon.

"Financially, things are tight so we need to move a couple on before any new signings can be made. We have lost three players (Luke Byrne, Mikey Drennan, Evan Osam) so we need to try an manoeuvre things before anyone can be signed."

Ex-LOI players Brian Murphy (Portsmouth), Pierce Sweeney (Reading), Paddy McCourt (Luton) and Noel Hunt (Southend) are all free agents after they were released by their English clubs and Fenlon says he will look at the market. "There are always players around and we've been linked with three or four players already, even though I haven't spoken to any of them."

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