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'gits' are UP FOR THE CUP

THE YEAR 2012 was one to forget for fans of Irish football, given what happened to the national team in Poland as they contributed one of the worst-ever return of results in the history of the European Championships.

Bad memories of 2012 also hang around for various members of the St Patrick's Athletic set-up. But for key Saints players Chris Forrester and Chris Fagan - team-mates who share a first name, a nickname (both called 'Git') and even share lifts home from training - that experience of losing the FAI Cup final at the hands of Derry is driving them on to another success, in tomorrow's meeting with the same opposition on the same stage.

EXPERIENCE

The pair have had good times at Richmond Park, league medals and European football the highlights, but this week as they looked ahead to tomorrow's clash with Derry, thoughts turned back to the final two years ago when Derry upset the odds and denied Pat's the Cup.

"I played and got a tap-in. It was a great experience to get there for the day and play at the Aviva but it was the stuff afterwards that I remember," Fagan told The Herald.

"We had lost the final but we had to go to the Red Cow Hotel for a fans' function. We had the disappointment as players of not winning the cup and then we had to go and meet the supporters and I found that hard to do, especially as it was a couple of mistakes from us that killed us on the day.

"We had to go and meet the fans, our supporters were great on the day and even when we walked into the hotel for the do, the fans gave us a great reception but for me it was a horrible feeling as we had lost, maybe we'd let them down.

"Losing is part of football but that experience, going to a function as a losing team, is not something I ever want to experience again."

At least Fagan had the positive of having scored in the game, but the final was let-down for Forrester, who admits he was overcome by the occasion.

"I started in central midfield in the last final we played but I didn't play that well. It was a disappointing day for me and for the team, the whole club. We could have edged it on the day but they got the luck and ended up winning. It was heart-breaking to lose," Forrester admits.

MASSIVE

"That was the biggest game of my career at that stage. We played Hannover in the Europa League that season and I think we played in front of 25,000 fans over in Germany but the Cup final later on that year was a massive stage for me. I built myself up for it, I had a lot of family and friends at the match, we had more Pat's fans than usual there.

"I think I tried too hard. I wasn't going out in the match thinking that I was nervous but subconsciously I wasn't 100% right. I wanted to do well, that took hold of me in the game and I got drawn into the whole thing about 51 years since the last cup win, I got caught up in all of that.

"But that won't happen me this year, I know what it's all about now, I am more experienced and stronger now," added Forrester.

It's been a good season for the pair in terms of goals, and it's certain that cross-channel scouts will be keeping an eye on Forrester and Fagan thanks to their form

FORM

"I have had a good year. I was a bit disappointed on one level as I'd set myself a target of 15 goals and I didn't reach that, not unless I get a hat-trick on Sunday. But I had a good season, I scored some nice goals and had a few assists, and maybe I will get goal for the season on Soccer Republic for the goal up in Drogheda earlier in the season," says Forrester.

Fagan says: "I think I am on 25 goals now, my target for the season was just to beat my tally last season, I did that and then managed to keep going. I was happy enough with the season and didn't have too many dry spells in terms of goals."

But now it all comes down to Sunday and Derry. "They are very strong at the back, McBride and McEleney at the back are hard to play against and Patterson up front is a huge threat, they are a strong side," Fagan believes.

But Forrester is more confident: "If we play as well as we can, we will beat them," he says.

"We're unbeaten in three games against Derry this season, we had maybe our best game of the season when we beat Derry 4-2 at home, we had some great football that day. If we play as well as we can and don't let the occasion get to us we can come out on top."


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