2023 Season Review: St. Patrick’s Athletic
Team: St. Patrick’s Athletic
Head Coach(s): Tim Clancy (until 2 May 2023); Jon Daly (from 2 May 2023)
Top Scorer: Chris Forrester (15 goals in all competitions)
Highest Attendance: 5,022 v Shamrock Rovers (27 October 2023)
Lowest Attendance: 3,117 v Sligo Rovers (23 October 2023)
Star Player: Chris Forrester
This was a tough one. There was a few candidates who could have gotten this accolade. Sam Curtis and Dean Lyness were in the mix after outstanding campaigns for the Saints but Forrester just pips them both.
It’s hard to ignore the maestro from Smithfield. The extratime.com preview for the 2023 season stated if Pats were to have a strong and successful season, the form of Forrester was going to be pivotal, and this proved right.
The Dubliner once again was the heartbeat of the Athletic midfield, having made 42 appearances for the club across all competitions, and played 3,569 minutes in total. Impressively, he finished St. Pats top goal scorer hitting 15 goals from the centre of the park.
Forrester starred for the Supersaints on their way to FAI Cup glory. He started every game in the competition including playing 120 minutes away to the holders Derry City in the Brandywell. He converted his spot kick during the penalty shootout and scored in ties against Longford Town and Finn Harps along the way to cup success.
Best Young Player: Sam Curtis
The obvious choice. Sometimes when you’re watching him play you forget how young he is.
The Meath man has not even turned 18 yet and has already accumulated over 60 first team appearances for the club. The defender was outstanding throughout the season whether it was in right back or centre back.
Curtis made 39 appearances, with six goal contributions (three goals and three assists), including the winner in the derby against Shelbourne at Tolka Park back in May.
Despite his young age, he was seen organising the back four when captain Joe Redmond was unavailable for a large chunk of the season due to injury.
His form led to a call up to Jim Crawford’s U21 Irish side where he has established himself as the first choice right back in the national underage team.
Curtis has hinted his last appearance for the Saints was the FAI Cup final win against Bohemians this month; one thing is for sure, it will not be his last appearance in the Aviva Stadium.
Best New Signing: Dean Lyness
There has been a revolving door when it comes to the Saints number one position the past few seasons. It looked like it had finally been sorted when Danny Rogers had re-signed for the club after coming in at the back end of 2022.
However, a serious hand injury ruled Rogers out for numerous months on the eve of the season. His deputy David Odumusu stepped in and his early season performances did not fill any Saints with confidence.
Up stepped Dean Lyness. A relatively unknown journeyman goalkeeper, who was signed as a emergency cover for Rogers, ended up as a colossus for the Saints this season.
The Englishman’s performances won over the Camac early on with some fine saves. Chants of “Deano” would be heard on a constant basis from the Inchicore faithful in recogination of his quality performances.
Lyness made 38 appearances across all competitions, keeping 14 clean sheets. A question mark remains over his future with no confirmation from the club or player as to whether the shot stopper will return to Inchicore in 2024.
What we expected they would do:
The extratime.com team predicted that Pat’s would qualify for Europe and would look to go on a cup run again. It’s nice to get a prediction right every once and awhile!
What they actually did:
SSE Airtricity League Premier Division
The Saints for the third consecutive season earned a place in the UEFA Europa Conference League qualifiers, having finished in third place.
The season started poorly, as the Athletic lost five of their first 13 league games which included defeats to Stephen O’Donnell’s Dundalk (5-0), Dublin rivals Bohemians, Shamrock Rovers and twice to Sligo Rovers.
The board acted swiftly removing Tim Clancy from his positon as Head Coach (with Clancy appointed just today as Cork City's new boss), with his assistant Jon Daly taking the reins initially on a temporary basis.
Their form drastically improved, which saw Jon Daly become the boss on a permanent basis. There was impressive wins along the way including a 4-1 victory against Derry City, and a 7-0 hammering of UCD. Daly after taking the job permanently averaged 1.96 points per game.
At times, there was moments throughout the campaign where it looked like Pats might capitalise on Shamrock Rovers inconsistency and challenge the Hoops for their crown but defeats to Drogheda United (twice) and Shelbourne quelled any possible title charge.
Despite this, after a shaky start, it was another good season for the Saints who will look to build on this next season.
After a good showing in the Europa Conference League in 2022, progressing against NS Mura, going close against CSKA Sofia, and having earned a nice figure of around €750,000 for making the third qualifying round, the club and fans would have hoped to replicate the performances in 2023.
However, this was not to happen.
The Athletic drew F91 Dudelange in the first round of qualifying and got off to worst start with a 2-1 loss away. A late Mark Doyle strike gave hope that a turnaround was possible in Inchicore.
Despite levelling the tie in Richmond Park, a second half collapse saw the Luxembourgish side go through to the second round.
Oege-Sietse van Lingen is a name the Pats fan will be happy not to see again.
Highest ever attendance for FAI Cup Final, defeating your rivals for the second time in three years, doesn’t get better that for the Saints.
What they need to improve on for next year:
At the end of the season in 2021, Pat’s were in a similar position, they’d done well domestically to put some pressure on the Hoops and won the FAI Cup.
Days later, the head coach walks away and what follows is a huge rebuild which stopped any chance of mounting any challenge to Rovers in 2022.
Fast forward to 2023, the difference now is Jon Daly will remain in charge next season and we’re not even two weeks after the final yet, and Pats are already active in the transfer market looking to address existing weaknesses in the squad.
One area which was definitely in need of signings was the striking department. Eoin Doyle never hit the heights as some thought he would when he returned to the league and he retired for personal reasons during the season. That left a rather young and inexperienced batch of centre forwards to lead the attack for the Athletic.
Pats have made a statement of intent and acquired Ruairi Keating from Cork City to lead the line in 2024 which on paper looks an excellent signing. Time will tell. The addition of Cian Kavanagh will add depth also.
Creativity can be an issue in this squad. Pats can look at times very reliant on Forrester or Jake Mulraney for inspiration to create chances. Brandon Kavanagh’s arrival from Derry City looks another shrewd piece of business by Pats.
The goalkeeping situation will need to sorted. Danny Rogers has signed back for 2024, but fans eagerly wait to see if Dean Lyness will return to D8 next season.
With Sam Curtis’ pending departure, the right back area will need to be strengthened. Axel Sjoberg and Ryan McLaughlin suffered injuries and were unavailable for a lot of games throughout the season and it would be a risk to rely on either.
If Adam Murphy was also to depart too this window, St. Pats will need to go into the market to look for further depth in that area.