2017 was almost the nightmare season for St Patrick's Athletic. Now, as they allow their finger nails to return to normal, they can reflect on a lucky escape. Okay, the quality of their players and the experience of their manager, Liam Buckley,
2017 was almost the nightmare season for St Patrick's Athletic. Now, as they allow their finger nails to return to normal, they can reflect on a lucky escape.
Okay, the quality of their players and the experience of their manager, Liam Buckley, made the difference in the end as they avoided relegation, but how they flirted with the drop for so much of the season.
Nothing really worked for them as injuries and suspensions meant that several players had to occupy positions that they did not know, while the bald-face truth is that certain players did not perform to the standards expected of them.
The scare will have served them well because the Saints actually have the ability to emerge as a very strong team in 2018. Don't be surprised if they are the complete opposite to how they were in 2017.
Star Player: Conan Byrne
Class is permanent and Byrne has proved to be one of the most consistent performers of his generation. You can always rely on him to work hard, make key passes, score crucial goals, and wreak havoc on opposition defenders.
What They Need For 2018
Regular service into Christy Fagan: On his day, there are few in the League who can finish better than Fagan. Injuries and a lack of sharpness prevented him from hitting his best form last term, but the players around him need to do a better job in feeding the ball into the Dubliner.
A toughness in centre midfield: It wasn't really until Owen Garvan and Killian Brennan arrived in the summer transfer window that the Saints looked any way ready for a battle in the middle of the pitch. That should not be the case next season with Ryan Brennan also added to the mix.
Realistic Targets For 2018
Top Five Finish: Bouncing back from relegation is never easy and with the new format in place and the other teams strengthening, there will be stiff competition for the promotion spots, but a playoff berth is not overambitious for the Donegal outfit.
Solid Cup Run: The Cup hoodoo was ended in 2014, but it's about time that they marched back to the Aviva Stadium or wherever the EA SPORTS Cup Final might be.
Best Signing Made So Far
Simon Madden: Not since Ger O'Brien was the best right-back in the League a few seasons ago have the Inchicore club been solid in this position. Madden's arrival from Shamrock Rovers should change that and give them more width when he presses forward on overlapping runs.