JJ Lunney 23' -
ST PATRICK'S ATHLETIC
Heart of Midlothian travel to Richmond Park to face St Patrick’s Athletic in a pre-season club friendly tonight (kick-off 7.45pm).
The Saints will see this game as an great opportunity to play a game without the stress of their poor campaign to worry about and one would think it is an ideal game for Liam Buckley to introduce fringe players, who would hope to impress in order to get into the starting XI in the league.
Players like Billy Dennehy, Aiden Keena, Barry Murphy and Sam Verdon will be looking to impress their boss, as well as recent signings Killian Brennan and Owen Garvan. Both are fit and available for this game and it also may offer fans a glimpse of the latter in action.
In their last game on Friday, they drew 1-1 with fellow strugglers Galway at home. Conan Byrne scored in the 48th minute with the Saints looking comfortable thereafter. Substitute Padraic Cunningham had other ideas though, bundling the ball in front of goalkeeper Conor O’Malley after a Marc Ludden long throw with seven minutes remaining.
The result leaves Pats with a record of three wins, eight draws and nine defeats after 20 games, in tenth place with a total of 17 points.
The fans have witnessed two wins, two draws and six defeats at their ground – the worst home record in the league – so getting the win tonight would really get fans upbeat somewhat ahead of their visit to champions-elect Cork City on Sunday.
For Saints' manager Liam Buckley, the game presents him with an opportunity to give players a chance to impress including his new signings.
"We're delighted to have Owen and Killian join the group as they are both excellent players.
"The game is a good opportunity for them and others to impress and push for a starting spot in the first team, while we also welcome Hearts to Richmond Park and look forward to testing ourselves against them."
Elsewhere, Pats midfielder Pat Cregg has left the club by mutual consent after joining from Shamrock Rovers last year. He made 15 appearances for the club. (Embed story on site)
HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN
Hearts beat Livingston on Saturday in ttheir first pre-season game of the season before travelling to Ireland for a pre-season training camp.
The squad arrived in Dublin on Monday for a week-long camp where they’ll face the Saints before heading north to Belfast for a clash with Linfield.
For Cathro's charges – like every other club in pre-season – the result and performance is of secondary importance and the primary focus is to build up fitness, match sharpness and rhythm for the season ahead.
Hearts finished the 2016/2017 SPFL season in fifth place, with a record of 12 wins, ten draws and 16 defeats from 38 games. They amassed a total of 46 points, some 12 points off fourth-placed St Johnstone, who took the final European spot.
Midfielder Don Cowie has revealed the arrival of the club’s six new signings has given everyone a boost as the Jambos continue their pre-season campaign.
“They’re settling in brilliantly, really good,” Cowie told HeartsTV. “A few new signings gives everyone a lift when you see them coming through the door. Real quality as well that’s come in.
“It’s exciting. You want to be out there training with them, getting to know them, and they’ve fitted in great. I’m looking forward to seeing them hopefully tomorrow night.
“It’s exciting for us, it’s exciting for the fans, because they see that quality coming in – seasoned internationals with plenty of caps for their country – and they want to come and play for Hearts.
“We’re disappointed with the way things went last year but it’s a new season, new start, new faces and we’re looking to get a good start and really kick on.”
Manager Ian Cuthro revealed he has a more or less a fully fit squad to work with, although Liam Smith and Bjorn Johnsen have stayed behind in Edinburgh with slight knocks.
Hearts finished fifth in the SPFL last season, with a total of 46 points.
In 1988, the two sides met in the European Cup. Hearts beat St Patrick’s of Dublin, as the Scottish commenters called them, 2-0 in each leg. The Jambos would go onto to reach the quarter-finals that year where they’d fall to the mighty Bayern Munich.
Hearts have lost their last four competitive games dating back from last season, while Pats have not won in seven league games, since the 12th of May against Drogheda United.
On the 1st of July 2015, Hearts visited Dublin for a pre-season game against Bohemians at Dalymount Park. Although they won the game 2-0, the Edinburgh club’s opener came on 86 minutes.
St Patrick's Athletic 7/1; Draw 4/1; Heart of Midlothian 1/4.
St Patrick’s Athletic 1-1 Hearts
St Patrick’s Athletic
Injured: Darren Dennehy (Ankle)
Injured: Liam Smith (ankle), Bjorn Johnsen (knock)