Mahon keeping feet on ground
Pats stay top but manager vows not to get carried away
THEY endured so much pain and heartache in last year's miserable season that St Pat's fans deserve some good times.
And they certainly are enjoying their football in the 2010 season as the Saints today sat proudly on top of the league table, ahead of champions Bohemians on goal difference, with three wins and three clean sheets from three league games after last night's 3-0 dismissal of UCD, thanks to goals from Ryan Guy (2) and Vinny Faherty.
Top of the table and eight points ahead of Shamrock Rovers already: good times indeed. The realists -- or the pessimists -- among the Inchicore faithful will recall they've been here before and ended up nowhere, as three seasons ago Pats began the campaign with four successive wins and finished the season 19 points behind winners Bohs.
It's a lesson that Pats boss Pete Mahon also knows: back in 2001 he was manager of a Bohemians side that started off a title defence with four wins on the trot but went on to have a miserable season, one Mahon didn't even see out.
"We started well that year but lost at home to Shamrock Rovers with a last-minute goal and then the season went from bad to worse. So I am not getting carried away," Mahon said after last night's clinical dismissal of UCD.
"I am around too long to know that there are many, many pitfalls out there. We have a hard game against Dundalk next weekend, so all we can do is keep up this momentum for as long as we can. The players can't do any more in terms of commitment or effort; we have put a lot of demands on them since we started off in January.
"But there isn't much talk about us at the moment and I am pleased about that -- we are working hard under the radar. So let Rovers and Bohs and Fingal, all the pre-season favourites, hog the limelight. We will just carry on working as hard as we can," added Mahon, pleased with the win over his former club.
UCD frustrated Pats' title rivals Bohemians for much of their game in midweek, and although Pats fans did have to wait for their opening goal for a frustrating 45 minutes last night, it did finally come.
UCD goalie Billy Brennan had denied Pats time and again in the first period but he was finally beaten in first-half injury time, Vinny Faherty pouncing on some careless defending from Evan McMillan to finally get the ball past the impressive keeper to claim his second goal of the season.
As was the case at home to Bohs, the second half was a real struggle for UCD's young side, though they did test the nerves of the home fans on the hour mark when Ciaran Nangle's cross nicked off the crossbar.
Pats were wasteful with their chances after that, Faherty and sub Gareth Coughlan missing when they should have hit the target, but Ryan Guy made sure of the win with two goals in the space of a minute. The first was on 86 minutes, when substitutes Gareth Coughlan and Conor Sinnott worked well on the left and set up Guy, who finished well past Brennan.
A minute later Guy had his second of the night, this time sub Paul Byrne the provider as Guy smashed his shot past Brennan from the edge of the box.
"It's a great start but we have to make sure we keep it going as long as we can. We want to keep away from the bottom end of the table -- we don't want to end up in any relegation dogfights this year," added Mahon.