London Irish centre Eamonn Sheridan admits the St Patrick’s Party at the Madejski Stadium will be the perfect opportunity for his side to build some momentum heading into their crucial European quarter-final.
Having misfired in Aviva Premiership Rugby of late – winning just two of their last six matches – the Exiles are preparing to lock horns with Edinburgh as they bid to clinch the European Rugby Challenge Cup title.
But following good performances against Harlequins, Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints, Sheridan believes their mixed form has only been on paper and is hoping a raucous crowd at the Madejski on Saturday– when Newcastle Falcons are the visitors – will turn their fortunes around.
“We’re not too focused on what has gone before the last few weeks. We’ve come out on the wrong side of some tight games, and I don’t think there is any one reason for that,” the 25-year-old said.
“But we are looking at putting in two big performances over the next couple of weeks with the St Patrick’s Day party game and then the European quarter-final after that.
“I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in the St Patrick’s game last year, and it’s really a special day for the club and one of the biggest of the season for us.
“You know straight away when you go out on the pitch just to warm up it is different to other games, it’s a really, really great atmosphere.
“The opening weekend double-header is great too but in some ways this one is even bigger for us. Obviously there are more people at Twickenham, but here the majority of people are our own fans and really get behind us.”
After a two-week break the Exiles are looking to come back with a bang against Newcastle – the side directly below them in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table.
And despite the gap between fixtures Sheridan is confident his side will take no time to dust off the cobwebs, and will come out all guns blazing against a tough Falcons side.
He added: “We’ve had a bit of time off and a training week as well, so we’ve done a lot of work heading into the Newcastle match and we’d like to think that it will pay off.
“I don’t think anyone will be too concerned that we haven’t had a match in the last couple of weeks to be honest – all the guys have been training hard so the match fitness will not have gone.
“Sometimes just getting some time to refocus and have a training week is even better for the side than having a weekend game.
“We’ve not been looking too far ahead at all either. Next season will be a big one, with the changes but what is most important for the club now is ending the season well and keeping the run going in Europe.”
The London Irish St Patrick's Party takes place on Saturday 28th March at Madejski Stadium. The day starts at 11am with fun for all the family, followed by London Irish vs. Newcastle Falcons in the Aviva Premiership. For tickets call 0118 968 1016 or visit www.London-irish.com