Saints On Song

When the MNS panellists spoke about "belief" at St Patrick’s Athletic prior the Shamrock Rovers game, something stirred in me.

Stuart Byrne, Kenny Cunningham and Pat Dolan were discussing under-achievement at Pat’s and having played for the club and from own personal experience, they were spot on.

The Saints are one of the best clubs in the country and my time there was extremely enjoyable. Although it was a short spell I got a feel of exactly what Pat Dolan had been saying of how great a club they could be.

Everything is in place for success.

They have a nice ground, good support and financial backing that allows them to compete well. The main ingredient missing over the past few years is belief and the ambition to be the best.

Why are they are always settling for third or fourth and thinking this is satisfactory? A club of that size and stature in Ireland should be competing for league titles year in and year out.

As the discussion moved to preview the match with reigning champions Shamrock Rovers, Dolan gave the game the massive build-up in his own unique inimitable style like only he can do and, while at first many laughed, why didn’t we listen!?

He said go to The Stadium of Light in Inchicore because it would be a match to remember, but surely even he didn't believe that the result that came was possible.

Maybe Liam Buckley and some of his players had been listening to some of these comments. Perhaps, finally the penny dropped and they wanted to prove that point.

"Belief" was there for all to see, and in bucket loads. The players worked so hard and were streets ahead of the Hoops on the night. It was a performance befitting of a side that can be the top team in Ireland.

I am big fan of Liam Buckley's beliefs and the way he sets out his team, but I thought they would struggle to score goals this year and a top three finish would be the best they could hope for.

After Friday night I may have to revise those predictions. I know it is only one win and just three points on the board, but psychologically this win is monumental.

After a result like it, that key word belief, that means so much inside a dressing room, will now tell the St Pats players that they can go on and win the title. No second best argued Dolan as he looked ahead to the game, and didn’t they show just that.

There was a stand out performer in this game that everyone is still talking about. Chris Forrester was fantastic and scored two special goals. He has received a lot of praise and coverage for his display and rightly so. While we can all see the unbelievable potential Forrester has, remember he is still only 19-years-old.

Chris Forrester was fantastic and scored two special goals. He has received a lot of praise and coverage for his display and rightly so. While we can all see the unbelievable potential Forrester has, remember he is still only 19-years-old.

I hope we let him develop and become the player we know he can be without hyping him up too much.

The reports in the newspapers on Saturday morning had his named mentioned in the same sentence as Lionel Messi. For a player who has only being playing organised soccer for two years, that is not a bad achievement.

Forrester has a good manager to protect him and a very good coach in Trevor Croly to help with his development. It will be great to watch that as the season progresses.

Rude Awakening For Rovers

The other side of it was that from Shamrock Rovers point of view, this game was an absolute disaster. A 5-1 defeat in a Dublin derby will not go down well with the Tallaght natives.

I feel it could be the rude awakening they might need. This result may now act as a catalyst for Rovers to go on a long unbeaten run. The measure of a top team and of champions is how they respond to adversity and it will be very interesting viewing to see just how they do react in the coming games.

I am sure they were under no illusions as to just how hard it will be to regain their title and the result on Friday night has just confirmed exactly that.

I was in the Carlisle Grounds on Friday night to see Bray Wanderers slump to a narrow defeat against now league leaders Sligo Rovers. This may sound strange but the best man on the pitch on the night was referee Alan Kelly.

It was an excellent, open game of football and obviously there was good performances from players on both teams. But it was enhanced because of Kelly.

He had total control and authority over the game, he let it flow when he could and only used the whistle when needed. The biggest compliment you can give a referee is that you don't even know he is there and that is exactly how i would describe Kelly's performance. You could also see the respect between both him and the players and that is wonderful to note.

Sligo got the win and now they are the side to catch, but there is a lot more coming in this title race after just six games. It could be the Saints that now go marching on, but there are more twists like we saw in Inchicore last Friday to come.

Until next week,

Alan

E-mail: loionline@rte.ie