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O’Donnell shakes up St Pats’ Squad

Stephen O’Donnell is not pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes. When it was announced that he would be replacing Harry Kenny in late summer, people knew that big change was imminent. O’Donnell had a brief two-month period to work with the players that were left at his disposal at the end of the season. He tried new formations and new players. He sampled, he tinkered…all to see some progress.

However, it is the close season in the League of Ireland that can often determine a side’s season. O’Donnell has wasted little time in making changes within the squad. Releasing Kevin Toner and Mikey Drennan is most notable. 

This decision could swing either way. In a year’s time, it could be seen as being a reckless move, releasing two stalwarts of the first time with bags of first team experience. However, this could be the benchmark that confirms that this St Pats’ team is evolving. This move is the catalyst for major change. A change that is required.

Stephen O’Donnell said: “St Patrick’s Athletic is a big club with a big history. They should be up near the top of the league and that has to be our aim. We are making some changes to the squad which will hopefully have a big, positive effect. I really hope that the club can prosper next season and into the future.”

Pats finished last season in fifth place, which was a solid, if not spectacular, effort. Considering their previous winning efforts in the league and in Europe, the last few years have been a bit anticlimactic at Richmond Park. However, there is a real sense of things turning for the better in Inchicore, with a recent link-up with Belvedere Football Club beginning to reap a lot of rewards at youth level for the club. This year alone, the Pats’ u13, u15 and u17 teams all won the National Division for their respective efforts, which is unheralded. 

O’Donnell said: “There is a great future at this club, everyone works hard and we are determined to produce some big results. The efforts put in at underage level this season were phenomenal and great credit must go to the players and all the staff for the respective sides. We value our standards of coaching massively from all youth teams up to the first team. I can’t wait to get into the new season in March. 

St Pats have already confirmed a major coup in the signing of Robbie Benson. Benson, who was a teammate of O’Donnell on a fantastic Dundalk side, brings a wealth of experience and quality to the side. Having missed most of last season through injury, Benson completed his four year shift at Dundalk by bagging the Unite the Nation Cup against Linfield, winning 7-1 on aggregate.

With a major name such as his already acquired, it could prove to be a very exciting and lucrative year for Stephen O’Donnell and St Patrick’s Athletic.

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