Mahon eyes home help in FAI draw
ST PATS fans are starting to dream about the end of their painful 49-year hoodoo in the FAI Cup, and manager Pete Mahon reckons that a home tie in tonight's semi-final draw will be enough to see his side into the final.
They were league leaders for a period this season but the Saints' title ambitions have effectively ended with a run of just one point from the last three league games. Pats are now 10 points behind table-toppers Shamrock Rovers with only six games to play.
But Pats supporters hope that one trophy will end up on Emmet Road this season as Mahon's side are now just 90 minutes away from an appearance in the Cup final at Lansdowne Road in November thanks to Saturday's 3-1 quarter-final win at home Sporting Fingal.
It was no surprise that the Saints nabbed a win at Richmond Park as they have one of the best home records in the country -- since a 2-1 loss at home to Shamrock Rovers back in April, Pats have lost just once in 12 games at home, winning nine of them, and Mahon says that 'Fortress Richmond' could be the key to success for Pats in the FAI Cup, a trophy they last won back in 1961.
"We have no power over who we get next but all I want in the semi-finals is a home draw, as I think we will be very hard to beat here at Richmond Park, no matter who we play," said Mahon after the win over Fingal.
"The Cup will be a very hard competition to win but we started off with a hard game against the form team at the time, Dundalk away, and we came through that. Our game on Saturday was probably the hardest one of the quarter-finals to call but we came through it and we're still there.
"I'm absolutely delighted. The FAI Cup is a very important competition for St Pats fans. We're in the semi-final now and I can't ask for more, we played really well on Saturday, we had our tactics spot-on in my view. Sporting Fingal had a bit of a spell in the second half, but Vinny Faherty got a great goal for us and it was game over then," added Mahon.
Poor weather and dreadful timing -- a 1pm kick-off on a Saturday when many of those who might have considered popping along to Richmond Park were playing in matches of their own in schoolboy and junior leagues -- saw a crowd of less than 900 turn up in Inchicore, but the small crowd saw Ryan Guy put the home side ahead mid-way through the first half, Pats going into the half-time break with that one-goal lead.
That didn't instill much confidence in the home fans as twice in the past few days, at home to Shamrock Rovers and away to UCD, Pats had taken the lead only to lose the game, as Mahon was aware.
"I said to the players at half-time that while we were 1-0 up at the break, in our last two games we were in the same position and got beaten, so it was important we didn't make it a hat-trick. But the players were superb.
"They gave 100 per cent again on Saturday and I'm very proud of them. I think that spirit was epitomised by Danny North, playing on his own up front, and he won man of the match," he added, and Pats stepped up after the break, Damian Lynch making it 2-0 on 53 minutes. Shaun Williams nicked a goal back for Cup holders Fingal but sub Vinny Faherty made sure of the win with a third goal on 86 minutes.
Pats now await news from tonight's semi-final draw and then focus on the league, with a game at home to Dundalk on Friday.
"The league isn't over. We have six games left and we want to finish as high as we can," added Mahon.