Jeff Kenna is preparing Saint Patrick's Athletic FC for a massive test in Russia with his side holding a 1-0 lead over PFC Krylya Sovetov Samara, telling uefa.com: "I know Samara have more in them."
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Former Republic of Ireland international Jeff Kenna is enjoying every minute of Saint Patrick's Athletic FC's UEFA Europa League run, but wishes his side could show the same form in Irish football.
The Saints enjoyed a superb six-game run in the UEFA Cup last season, defeating JKF Olimps and IF Elfsborg before losing narrowly to Hertha BSC Berlin, and they are on a roll again in the first UEFA Europa League season. Having defeated Valletta FC 2-1 on aggregate in the second qualifying round, the Saints pulled of an exceptional result last week, defeating Russia's PFC Krylya Sovetov Samara 1-0 at home thanks to a goal from recent signing Declan O'Brien.
The Saints are on form in Europe, but that is not the case in the Irish league where they have lost 12 of their first 22 games and lie in the bottom half of the table. "It's head-wrecking to think that we have two wins and a draw from three games in Europe and yet we have lost so many games – too many games – in the league," Kenna told uefa.com. "If I had the answer to why that is, I would be the best manager around. Maybe the players raise themselves for the European games where there is an edge to them; that shouldn't be the case but it seems to be happening."
Kenna won the English title as a Blackburn Rovers FC player in 1995, but rates last week's win against Krylya Sovetov as a career highlight.
"That was the biggest result of my career," he said. "We know how tough it will be in Russia for the second leg but we have something to hold on to. It's was a fantastic feeling to beat them. I am trying to play it down because I know Samara have more in them and the away leg will be different to the game in Dublin, but I can't hide my happiness; that was such a massive result for this club and for this league."
O'Brien has scored all three Saints goals in their three UEFA Europa League games since his mid-season switch from Dundalk FC and is relishing his run in UEFA competition after missing out with his previous club. "Drogheda United played 12 games in Europe when I was there but I only played two games as a sub," O'Brien said. "I was unlucky with injuries and didn't play a part, so it's great to get this run. I know from playing in European football with Drogheda that when you get a chance you have to take it and I was able to put one away in the three games so far. We have a real chance against Krylya Sovetov now as all the pressure is on them."