Bermingham sees coming month as crucial in Pat’s drive for Europe

By Stephen Leonard

ST PATRICK’S Athletic captain Ian Bermingham insists the next three games could prove pivotal in determining whether or not the Inchicore side secures European football this season.

Fresh from their dramatic 1-0 victory over Cork thanks to a last-minute strike by Ronan Hale, the Saints will now face another three teams currently in the bottom half of the Premier Division table in Sligo Rovers, Finn Harps and table props UCD.

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While quick to acknowledge that another nine points from those fixtures will be no mean feat, he insists Pat’s are good enough to bag them and hopefully close the six-point gap that separates them from Bohemians in fourth and Derry City in third.

“The next three league games against Sligo, Finn Harps and UCD, without any disrespect to those sides, are games that we should be really looking to win” Bermingham told The Echo.

“Finn Harps have been on a good run with some really big wins. But if we can beat Sligo at home, we could go on a good run and really close that gap on Bohs and Derry.”

Hale’s late goal in Turners Cross on Friday really hauled Pat’s hopes of a European berth out of the fire especially given that they were coming into that fixture after back-to-back defeats against the Gypsies and league leaders Dundalk.

“It was a really important win for us” said Bermingham. “We’d play Bohs and were beaten and then we lost to Dundalk and we could have gone on a real slump, but that win has put us right back up there.

“There’s a big enough gap, but we’ll be looking to catch Bohs.

“We should be doing a lot better really. We’ve had an up-and-down season and we’ve not really put any type of run together.

“We’re just not getting that final pass in the last third and not really taking our chances, but I feel that’ll come.”

Pat’s did make a short-lived return to the Europa League this season, falling at their opening hurdle that was Swedish side Norrkoping.

And while some might argue that the demands of those two games cost them ground in the league as they suffered a 3-0 reversal against Bohs on their return from Sweden, Bermingham is not willing to entertain any such excuse.

“When you’re playing in Europe you have to expect that. Probably more of the fresh players could have been used [for the Bohs match]. There was a lack of intensity about us and we did look a little out on our feet after about 60-70 minutes.

“I know we lost, but I thought we played the better football.                                         

“But we have the squad there to play in Europe. When you look at our bench it’s frighteningly good. You have the likes of Chris Forrester, James Doona, Rhys McCabe, all really good players” he said.

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