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BY John Hudson

THE 200 St Patrick’s Athletic fans who left Richmond Park on Friday
night would have certainly gone home happy campers.

The Saints had played in front of fans for the first time since
defeating Cork City in March 2019 and they kept up their bid for a
first SSE Airtricity Premier Division title since 2013 with a
convincing 2-0 victory over rivals Sligo Rovers.

It’s another big night at Richmond Park this evening and the lucky 200
fans who will gain access for the clash with Finn Harps at 7.45 (also
LIVE ON LOITV) will be expecting more of the same from the home side.

There was somewhat of a party atmosphere in Inchicore on Friday night
as the Saints treated the returning fans to a super show.

Matty Smith set the ball rolling early on, side footing in an
eight-minute opener after great work by Alfie Lewis and Robbie Benson
set up the Scot.

Ronan Coughlan’s second-half penalty against his former side doubled
their lead on 72 minutes when Smith was taken down by defender John
Mahon and sealed the win as the Saints picked up a deserved three

That win moved them above Sligo in the table and up to second where
they sit three points behind leaders Shamrock Rovers heading into this
evening’s games.

The Hoops visit Dalymount Park to-night for what is bound to be a
feisty Dublin Derby against a Bohemians side bang in form with only
one defeat in their last eight games and that loss coming at Richmond
Park last month.

Finn Harps were also in action on Friday night when they went down 2-1
at the Finn Park after a Will Patching brace claimed all three points
for Derry City. Ethan Boyle had equalised for the home side who now
lie in seventh place on 19 points after 16 games.

When St Pat’s visited Ballybofey last April goals from Billy King and
Matty Smith secured all three points  with a 2-0 win.

Since returning from the mid-season break Stephen O’Donnell’s charges
have won both of their games and the Saints head coach feels that the
break probably helped his squad recharge their batteries.

“The break probably came at the right time for us. We are
re-energised, refocused and since we have come back. The intensity,
quality and application in training has been very good also.

“We are delighted to take maximum points in the first two games but no
time to dwell on it. We have Finn Harps now and it’s going to be a
tough game.

“It’s a quick turn around and as I said no time to dwell on the win
against Sligo. In Finn Harps’ last away game they drew 1-1 with
Shamrock Rovers and fully deserved the draw, so we are under no
illusions as to how tough it is going to be.”

Two big fixtures in 72 hours can be a testing ask for any side but the
determination and intensity St Pat’s showed last Friday against Sligo
indicates they will be well up for the task.

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