LOI In Europe: St. Patrick’s Athletic vs NS Mura

St. Patrick’s Athletic have been watching the European action from the wings, and now it’s time to enter the fold.

Tim Clancy’s side will face NS Mura from Slovenia, in the second qualification round of the Europa Conference League.

The first leg will take place on Thursday, 21st of July, in Richmond Park. With the return leg going down a week later on the 28th of July, at the Recreation Park Fazanerija, in Murska Sobota.

Pats have been very active in the current transfer window. Signing Dutch midfielder Thijs Timmermans, Finnish winger Serge Atakayi and Bolton native Harry Brockbank. Along with added the versatile Barry Cotter, on loan from Shamrock Rovers.

While Darragh Burns going to MK Dons will be a massive loss, these new recruits, plus, Paddy Barrett and Jamie Lennon coming back from injury will leave this St. Pats squad in good fettle heading into their most recent European run.

So, ahead of these games, we’re going to dive in and give a little background check on St. Patrick’s opponents, NS Mura.

NS Mura

NS Mura were founded in 2012 from the ashes of their predecessors ND Mura 05. Who dissolved after suffering major financial issues.

They began life in the 2013/14 season, playing in the 1. MNL Murska Sobota league, one of the 16 intercommunal leagues in the fourth-tier of Slovenia’s football system.

Following three promotions in five years, Mura found themselves in the top division, the Prva Liga, where they continue to ply their trade.

NS Mura won their first ever top-flight league championship after the 2020/21 campaign, beating Maribor to the title on goal difference. However, they were unsuccessful in their defence, finishing fourth in their most recent Prva Liga season.

European History

A year before their title winning triumph, this incarnation of Mura began their inaugural European stint.

They faced Maccabi Haifa from Israel, in the first round of qualification in the 2019/20 Europa League tournament. Ultimately, losing out 5-2 on aggregate.

NS Mura would become a regular fixture in the early qualifying rounds of UEFA’s major European competitions in the following years.

They weren’t making any sort of impact in their premature European runs, but that all changed last year.

After their defeat against Bulgaria’s Ludogorets, NS Mura dropped down to the Europa League, and made it all the way to the play-offs for a place in the group-stages.

Unfortunately, they were beating by the trendy Austrian outfit Sturm Graz. But, automatically dropped into the Europa Conference League group phase.

Mura were drawn into Group G, with Tottenham, Vitesse from the Netherlands, and French club, Rennes.

That difficult group turned out to be an issue for NS Mura, who finished bottom. But they did create a lifelong memory for their supporters.

On the 25th of November, 2021, NS Mura hosted Jose Mourinho’s Spurs team for their final home game in the group.

Mura hadn’t registered a single point until that stage. And were battered 5-1 by the North London club about a month prior.

The home side took the surprising lead about ten minutes into the game, and held on until the 72nd minute when Harry Kane equalised. Many expected Tottenham to grab a winner, but the complete opposite happened.

In the 94th minute, Slovenia striker Amadej Marosa skinned Davinson Sanchez, and chipped the ball into the net for his hometown side. Handing NS Mura, a famous victory, and carving his name into Slovenian football folklore.

St. Pats vs NS Mura

While Marosa is no longer at the club, they have capable players that could cause issues for St. Patrick’s Athletic.

Gregor Balazic, Ouro Samsondin and Mirlind Daku have all been capped at international level, for Slovenia, Togo and Kosovo respectively.

The latter has been pointed out as a danger-man going forward, with the striker on loan from Croatian side, NK Osijek scoring five goals in 16 league appearances last season.

It’s certainly a tricky tie for St. Pats, but a good result at home in-front of a sold-out crowd would give the Inchicore men something to hold onto in Slovenia.

A tie against either CSKA Sofia, or FK Makedonija of North Macedonia awaits the winner of this one.

Everyone here at the Big Kick Off hopes it’s St. Patrick’s Athletic that take another step closer to the Europa Conference League groups.

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