Sporting Fingal goalkeeper Brendan Clarke is pleased with the Ravens' position going into the mid-season break and sees no reason why the club cannot push on to win the Airtricity League title.
Last Tuesday's 2-1 victory over Dundalk at Oriel Park leaves the Santry side second in the table on goal difference and just two points behind leaders St. Patrick's Athletic. Clarke feels that going into the break on the back of a victory was important.
"It was a massive win. If you want to do anything in this league you've got to go to places like that and win," he said. "We went to Bohs this season and put it up to them and we went to Pats and probably should've won that game, and we've beaten Sligo away, so we've shown we can do it."
Fingal - who only gained promotion to the top flight last season by virtue of a victory over Bray Wanderers in the promotion/relegation play-off - can now look down the table at title-holders Bohemians and last season's runners-up Shamrock Rovers who occupy the fifth and fourth-placed spots respectively. But Clarke is not surprised by this as he believes the FAI Cup holders possess the talent to win the Premier Division at the first attempt.
"Looking at the squad, there are definitely lads there that can do it so there is no reason why we shouldn't be up there. It was just a case of the lads gelling together," he said. "We're second on merit, we've conceded fewer goals than Bohs and Rovers. Somebody has to win the league, so why not Sporting Fingal?"
Former St. Pat's man Clarke is relishing life at Fingal having spent seven years in Inchicore as an understudy without ever getting a chance to show his ability. He started this season as first choice before an injury allowed Darren Quigley to seize his chance - but Clarke regained the number one jersey recently when Quigley picked up a knock on his elbow before leaving to represent Paul Doolin's all-League of Ireland U-23 side in the International Challenge Trophy against England in May.
And while the competition between himself and Quigley is fierce, Clarke is happy in the knowledge that Fingal manager Liam Buckley can call upon either one without fear.
"It's hard as a goalkeeper as there's only one position. You can't just go and fill in at right-back, and with a 'keeper like Darren you just have to wait for him to get sent off or injured before getting a chance."
"But Liam makes his decisions on a week-to-week basis," added Clarke. "It's not that I'm number one and he's number two, it's judged on merit and that was one of the big factors in me coming to the club. It's good to have a manager that has faith in your capabilities as a player."
This article appeared in the Fingal Independent on June 15th, 2010, during the 2010 season. Sporting Fingal finished fourth that season, five points behind eventual champions Shamrock Rovers. The club qualified for the first qualifying round of the 2010/11 Europa League by virtue of the fact that third-placed Sligo Rovers (who finished a point above Fingal) had won the FAI Cup final against Shamrock Rovers, the combination of the two achievements earning Sligo a place in the second qualifying round.
Eventually the club was dissolved in February 2011 when the club lost its primary financial backer before the start of the new season (article on Fingal's dissolution by the Irish times).