Only way is up for vibrant St Pat's

Their 47-year wait for an away victory in Europe over, Dublin side St Patrick's Athletic FC travel to face Hertha BSC Berlin in the UEFA Cup as underdogs but with the ambition to pull off a "phenomenal" upset.

John McDonnell celebrates victory against Elfsborg
John McDonnell celebrates victory against Elfsborg ©Sportsfile

'Respect'
However, the club which introduced legendary defender Paul McGrath to senior football feel they can cause an upset at the Olympiastadion, just as they did in the last round against in-form Swedish club IF Elfsborg. "In fairness to Hertha's manager, he wanted a DVD of our game in the last round against Elfsborg, and he said in a few reports he had respect for us," said St Patrick's manager John McDonnell in Berlin on Monday.

'Think positive'
"Their players might not think like that. Hertha had something on their website when the draw was made, saying we were an 'unknown small Irish club'. Hopefully their players think we're a just a small little team from Inchicore in Dublin. I know we were 80th of all the teams in the competition, right at the base, so the only way is up. It's our UEFA Cup final to get this far, but we have to try and go further. If we get through this it would be fantastic, it would be phenomenal. We really have to think positive."

Landmark victory
This season's UEFA Cup run is most welcome for St Patrick's fans unaccustomed to glory on foreign soil. The club have been successful in Ireland – winning four Premier Division titles in the 1990s – but have never impressed on the continental stage. Their 1-0 victory against JFK Olimps in Latvia in the first qualifying round was the club's first-ever away win in almost five decades of European competition.

No day out
Having never gone this far before, the squad are enjoying their adventure this season, and are determined to make the most of their visit to the German capital. "We are not here in Berlin for a day out, we're here to compete and try to do something," said defender Damian Lynch. "We want to make sure that the tie is still alive for the second leg in Dublin, and I know Hertha won't like coming to Dublin."

Fixture congestion
Success has a price for St Patrick's this season, however. As they are still in contention for four trophies as the domestic season nears its climax, the club face a fixture backlog which will see them play a game every three days in September.