Byrne: It ain't over yet
Midfielder rules out any complacency from Pat's
IT'S GOOD to talk, if you are a Super Saint.
And as the club's first league title in 14 years edges even closer this weekend, St Patrick's Athletic midfielder Conan Byrne believes that the seeds for a possible championship success this season – and Byrne stresses that nothing has been won yet – were sown in a frank and open chat among players after an early season disaster.
Right now, it's all smiles around the Inchicore area as a superb run of form – 13 points from a possible 15 over the last six weeks – has placed Liam Buckley's side within sight of the title.
A win at home to Sligo tomorrow would effectively grant them the league, depending on how second-placed Dundalk fare against Bohemians tonight.
Should Dundalk drop points in Dalymount, a win against Sligo will guarantee the league crown for Pat's while even if the Lilywhites win tonight, Saints would need a complete collapse to allow the Louth outfit back into the race.
The outlook wasn't so bright at the start of the season, however. Pat's began the new term with an unconvincing 1-0 win over Drogheda United and they were humiliated 3-0 at Shamrock Rovers in their second game.
"We had a great team meeting after that game, we just got together as a group and said we had to get this right," says Byrne, who is hoping to win a league title to add to the FAI Cup medal he won at Sporting Fingal in 2009.
"And that worked for us, we just took the approach that we had to be focused on the next game all the time, whether that was a big league game or a Leinster Senior Cup tie, we had to set ourselves standards and stick to them.
"I think that meeting was the pivotal moment in our season, every player came out of that room feeling better as we'd said what needed to be said, and after that positivity came into our play.
"It was humiliating to lose 3-0 to one of your main rivals. We knew as a group that what we had done that day just wasn't good enough and we could not let that happen again.
"A few home truths came out, no one held back. We knew that we needed to do better, improve our attitude, everyone took that on board and it worked, we only lost two games in the league after that. And I think it has shown in our play as we are a good side. We play the right way, we get the ball down and create chances.
"People criticised us saying we didn't have an out-and-out goalscorer but there are goals in this team, we have five or six players who have eight goals or more, we have goals in all areas of the pitch," added Byrne.
"But we can't get too far ahead of ourselves this weekend as we have nothing won.
"We have three games left and it's possible that we could lose three games, anything can happen.
"We're trying to treat this Sligo match tomorrow like any other game, we have done that all season and there's no reason to change that now.
"But there's no getting away from the fact that it's a massive game, massive for the club and for our supporters. We will stay relaxed and focused, put in a performance tomorrow and see if we can get over the line.
"It should be some occasion tomorrow, a packed house in Richmond Park, Sligo will bring a big crowd, it's live on TV so it's a day to look forward to, and if we win the game it would tee up a brilliant finish to the season.
"We could really enjoy the last two games if we can win tomorrow and more or less have the league won," added Byrne.