By John Hudson
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC head coach Stephen O’Donnell feels a bright
future lies ahead for several of his younger players who have
progressed to the first team squad from the club’s highly successful
Josh Keeley, Ben McCormack, Cian Corbally and Darragh Burns who last
season figured on the Saints under 19 side which claimed the SSE
Airtricity Under 19 title for the first time since 2014 were all on
the bench for last Saturday’s Premier Division game against Drogheda
Burns was the only one of the four to see some game time when he
replaced Jason McClelland with 20 minutes remaining and the sides
level at 1-1.
The young wide right player certainly made his mark going on to set up
the winner for another substitute Billy King in the closing minutes
and give St Pat’s their first win of the new season.
O’Donnell was full of praise for Burns who has been with St Pat’s
since 2018 when under 17 head coach Jamie Moore signed him and he has
made steady progress through the ranks to finally be rewarded with the
offer of a professional contract.
“I was delighted with Darragh’s performance against Drogheda and the
composure he showed in setting up the winning goal.
“His composure after winning the ball back in a dangerous area after
Ronan Coughlan’s shot had rebounded off the post especially for a
young player was excellent.
“Then when he could have got excited in the box, taken a touch and
smashed one across the goal or shot himself his composure to identify
the situation and the quality to be able to execute the little chip
across to Billy (King) at the back post to finish was excellent.
“Darragh has been doing really well and training really well but again
it’s about knowing the right time to implement the young players in.
“We’ve a lot of young players with a lot of quality. I enjoy working
with them but it’s all about feeding them in at the right time and in
the right spots.” explained O’Donnell.
Burns was no stranger to playing a big part in a St Pat’s side which
clinched a late win.
As last seasons under 19 league final against Bohemians certainly
turned out to be a “Burns Night” in late December at the UCD Bowl when
the St Pat’s man kept his composure to fire home the winner from the
penalty spot with three minutes of extra time remaining and give St
Pat’s a 2-1 victory and the league title.
While earlier in that game Burns had set up Kyle Robinson for the
young Saints opener with another of his pinpoint crosses from the
Born in Dublin’s Rotunda Hospital and growing up in Swords Burns made
several appearances for both the Northern Ireland under 17 and 19
international sides as his dad hails from Belfast.
While as a 17-year-old Burns had the distinction of making his St
Pat’s senior debut in a friendly against Chelsea in July 2019.
There’s no doubt St Pat’s fans will be seeing more of the talented
youngster during the season.
O’Donnell takes his side to Dalymount Park on Saturday evening (6.0)
brimming with confidence following a decent start to the season with a
1-1 draw at Shamrock Rovers on the opening night in Tallaght and last
week’s 2-1 home win over Drogheda.
While Bohemians have struggled to get going after last season’s
impressive second place finish to Shamrock Rovers, just managing a 2-2
home draw with Longford Town that followed on from a 1-0 defeat at
Finn Harps in their opener.