Saints have a new spirit
Steely edge to Pat's side a boost for visit of Dundalk
The Saints appear to have combined style with steel to make their team more of a force in 2018.
That's the view, at least, of St Patrick's Athletic striker Christy Fagan as the Inchicore club welcome a revived Dundalk side to Richmond Park tonight, spirits high in the Saints camp thanks to Friday's 1-0 win at Dalymount Park.
Away wins were all too rare for Pat's last season (just two in 17 away league games) but Liam Buckley's outfit have already equalled that tally this term, wins from both away games (Bray and Bohs).
Despite the presence of Michael D Higgins, Friday's derby was less than presidential, in terms of quality, but for Fagan, it's the fact that his side came away with the points which shows that the team have more about them this year, in contrast to last term's flirtation with relegation.
"That is definitely the sort of game we would not have won last season," Fagan says of Friday's win.
"It's a good sign for us, especially after we had a bad night down in Waterford, that we can go away and win, show a bit of resolve.
"So often in games we were the better side but came away with nothing, the pleasing thing for me from Friday is that Bohs were probably the better team on the night but we got the goal and got the win.
"We didn't play great stuff against Bohs the other night but we dug in and got the win we needed. Our play can be better, and will get better, but Bohs away was just about getting the win.
"Our away form was awful last season, two away wins in a season is relegation form and that's why we were down at the bottom, until the last day of the season, but hopefully this year we will do better."
Stalwarts like Fagan, Conan Byrne and Ian Bermingham have been key for Pat's this year but new arrivals like Dean Clarke, Kevin Toner, Simon Madden have taken to life by the Camac like ducks to water.
"I think the new faces have added a lot, we have more strength in the team, more experience, we have lads who have been around the game," says Fagan.
"Simon Madden has been in the league for a long time, so we have a good mixture and having that extra bit of experience is definitely a help. Dean Clarke has been good for us too, since he came in he's looked fit and strong and he definitely adds pace to the left side for us, and he can score goals as well," added Fagan,
Saints fans came to dread the Dundalk fixture last season, Stephen Kenny's side winning all three games on an aggregate score of 11-0. "Dundalk tonight will be tough, they have quality all over the pitch and we have to be prepared to put in a solid shift," says Fagan.
Dundalk come to Emmet Road with spirits high, not just because of Friday's win at home to Cork City but an impressive return of four straight clean sheets. "It's great. Confidence is flying now, but it's only three points at the end of the day. It's another clean sheet as well which is a big confidence boost for the back four and the goalkeeper," defender Dane Massey said of that Cork win.
"To keep four clean sheets is great. We've competition all over the back four. If you're in there, you have to be at the top of your game to keep your jersey. Fair play to Gary Rogers as well - he pulled out another big save as well.
"We've got a quick turnaround to Pats now which is good. We've a big enough squad to deal with it and good enough players to come in, so we're looking forward to it."