Jeff Kenna’s (above) side St Patrick’s Athletic tonight have pulled off one of the biggest wins in their clubs history after beating Russian side Krylya Sovietov on away goals in the Europa League third qualifying round.
This now means that the Saints are guaranteed another €90,000 for tonight’s win, and now sees them move within one round of reaching the group stages, where those bonuses will become even more lucrative.
While their league form hasn’t been much to boast about this season, Pat’s European form has been a joy to behold. Last year they reached the First Round proper of the old UEFA Cup, where they were beaten 2-0 by German side Heartha Berlin.
The Saints went into tonight’s game leading 1-0 from the first leg, but were written off by the bookies who were tipping them at 9/1 to win the game. It looked like the bookmakers were right, when with 57minutes gone Sovietov were leading 3-0, and 3-1 on aggregate through goals from Anton Bober and brace from Yevgeni Savin.
It looked like the Saints dream was over, but they showed spirit and determination, battling hard they regained two goals, one from Stuart Byrne and the other from European goalscoring machine, Declan ‘Fabio’ O’Brien, securing one of the biggest wins in the clubs history on a score line of 3-3 over the two legs, with Pat’s winning on the away goals rule.
O’Brien who is on loan to Pat’s from Dundalk has proved to be a fantastic coup for the club, having scored in all of their ties in Europe this season, which is an Irish record.
Speaking after last week’s 1-0 win at Richmond Park, manager Jeff Kenna said – ‘It’s by far the biggest result I’ve had as a manager’
Somehow I think tonight’s results eclipses that even further. It is one of the finest achievements for the League of Ireland side, not only that it also raises the profile of domestic soccer in Ireland something which has been in decline recently.
It was Samaras who provided the glory for Celtic last night, and tonight it’s Samara where The Saints celebrate their glorious achievement.
St. Pat’s will now be entered into tomorrow’s final qualifying round draw to be held in Geneva. They will be faced with the possibility of meeting sides such as Everton, Aston Villa, Villarreal, Valencia, Ajax and Lazio.
Maybe if Pat’s draw a big side tomorrow we might actually be able to see some Irish footballing action on our screens. So far this season we have not seen any TV coverage of the Irish clubs who have ventured into Europe, which is sad, because it is an achievement in itself for Irish clubs to be in Europe, let alone be one step away from the main competition.
It’s about time we showed more passion for the game, and to fight for our place at Europe’s top table, but how can we do that when all we have to watch is the Natural World?
Wake up RTE, your country needs you.