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St. Patrick’s Athletic: Review Of The Season (2022)

St. Patrick’s Athletic: Review Of The Season (2022)- Aidan Crowley reviews the 22 season for the Saints!

Local League of Ireland club, St. Patrick’s Athletic, ended a hectic 2022 domestic season with a somewhat disappointing fourth-place finish. Considering that they were looking like genuine title contenders, at one stage, with a four-game winning sequence in August/September, manager, Tim Clancy, will have been disappointed that they failed to maintain this momentum for the remainder of the season.

In the end, St. Pat’s ended the season on a respectable tally of 61 points, with only five points separating them from Derry City and Dundalk, who both finished on 66 points. However, Derry City managed to clinch second place, due to their superior goal difference, with Dundalk having to contend with a third-place finish.
As a result of that fourth spot placing, the Saints missed out on automatic qualification for European competitions. However, they still managed to secure a place in next season’s Europa Conference League, virtue of the fact that Derry City defeated Shelbourne in last month’s FAI Cup final.

St. Pat’s main downfall was a degree of inconsistency, resulting in them losing 11 games and drawing seven, over the course of the 36-match league campaign. They could ill-afford to drop so many points over these 18 games, if they wanted to remain in the hunt for the title, which ultimately went to Shamrock Rovers, for an elusive three-in-a-row.
The Saints lost some key players, during the season, including goalkeeper, Joseph Anang, on loan from English Premier League club, West Ham United, who returned to his old club and was subsequently loaned out to EFL League One side, Derby County. Speedy winger, Darragh Burns, also departed from Richmond Park, transferring to EFL League One club, MK Dons.
However, the Saints had the consolation of a very decent run in last season’s Europa Conference League. They got the better of top Slovenian side, Mura, over a fraught two legs in the Second Qualifying Round, with a 1-1 draw at home, before winning 6-5 on penalties, after a 0-0 draw in the away leg.

They then went on to play experienced European campaigners, Bulgarian side, CSKA Sofia in the Third Qualifying Round. St. Pat’s showed their class and no small amount of guile, with a famous 1-0 victory in the away leg, adding another scalp to their impressive list of European wins against top opposition. The goalscoring hero in Sofia was striker, Serge Atakayi, who rounded the keeper, to slot home into an empty net in the 87th minute. Unfortunately, that’s where the Saints’ European adventure ended, as they lost the home leg 2-0 and crashed-out of contention.
As holders of the FAI Cup, St. Pat’s were hoping to retain this trophy in the absence of a good league run, but it was not to be. Their Last-16 Round clash against First Division side, Waterford United, was scheduled right in the middle of their European campaign, three days after their away leg match against Mura, in Slovenia and four days before they travelled to Bulgaria to face CSKA Sofia.

This didn’t help the focus of the Emmet Road club on the day (31st July) at the RSC. Although they scored twice through striker, Ronan Coughlan’s penalty and defender, Tom Girvosti’s goal, they conceded three goals, to disappointingly exit the competition at the first hurdle on a 3-2 scoreline.

However, this poor result can be put in perspective, as Waterford went on to the FAI Cup semi-final, before losing to Shelbourne and also made the Premier Division promotion/relegation play-off final, eventually losing to UCD.
Club Facts: League of Ireland Season (2022):
Club: St. Patrick’s Athletic FC.
Address: Richmond Park, Emmet Road, Inchicore, Dublin 8.
Manager/Head Coach: Tim Clancy.
Top Scorer: Eoin Doyle (15 goals – 14 in the Premier Division plus one in the President’s Cup. Second highest scorer in the Premier Division, behind Aidan Keena, Sligo Rovers with 18 goals).
Highest Attendance: 6,760 (v CSKA Sofia, 11th August).
Lowest attendance: 1,900 (v Sligo Rovers, 14th August).
Star Player: Joe Redmond.

Tallaght native, Joe Redmond, was the standout player for the Saints this season, making a total of 42 starts for the First X1 and helping them to a fourth-place finish in the Premier Division table, with a tally of 61 points. Captain and defender, Redmond, who had a stint with EFL Championship side, Birmingham City, as a youth player and had spells with Cork City and Drogheda United, following his release from the Championship club in May 2021.
The 22-year-old impressed then Drogheda manager, Tim Clancy, so much during his tenure with the Boynesiders, that he was one of Clancy’s first signings when he took the helm at Inchicore, signing his contract in December 2021, ahead of last season.

He was magnificent at the core of the St. Pat’s defence, throughout the season, especially in the early stages, helping the team to retain eight clean sheets in their first 15 games. His performances were also closely monitored by Ireland Under-21 manager, Jim Crawford. He was duly rewarded for his playing consistency when he was selected by Crawford for the UEFA Under-21 Championship qualification play-off games against Israel in September.
Best Young Player: Ben McCormack.

Dubliner, Ben McCormack, had a stellar season, with 17 appearances for the First X1, 10 as a substitute. McCormack revelled in his role as a central midfielder, with a distinct box-to-box style of play, not unlike his more decorated fellow-midfielder, Chris Forrester. The 19-year-old also has a keen eye for goal, like Forrester, netting two goals, over the season.

His outstanding performance, last season, was in the 2-1 away win against UCD when he came off the bench as a 72nd minute substitute for striker, Jason McClelland and wnt on to turn the game in St. Pat’s favour. He was fouled by UCD right-winger, Liam Kerrigan, in the penalty area. When striker, Eoin Doyle’s penalty kick was parried by the Students’ keeper, Lorcan Healy, McCormack was quick off the mark, powering the rebound into the net.
He then sealed the three points for the Saints, with a superb assist in the 89th minute, firing in a corner kick which Joe Redmond finished off to the net.

Best New Signing: Serge Atakayi.
Congo-born striker, Serge Atakayi, only joined St. Pat’s in mid-season, around mid-July, as a replacement for Darragh Burns, who transferred to MK Dons. Atakayi has proven to be a very similar type of player to Burns, both speedy right-wingers. However, he had a tough task following in the footsteps of the fans favourite, Burns, who had bagged four goals in 22 appearances, before heading across the channel.

As it transpired, Atakayi won over the Saints fans very quickly and completely endeared himself to their travelling supporters, with an 87th minute winner away to CSKA Sofia in their Europa Conference League clash.
He also went on to beat Burns’ goalscoring feats, netting four league goals in just 13 appearances. Atakayi signed an 18-month contract when he joined the Saints in July and he now looks set to become an even more prominent member of the First X1 squad in the new season (2023).

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