WHILE St Johnstone will aim to defend their Premier Sports Cup crown vigorously as they return to Hampden for the semi-finals of the competition in November, Shaun Rooney has revealed another landmark the Saints want to tick off their list this season.
The defender scored the first goal in their 2-0 win at Dundee on Wednesday night, with midfield controller Ali Crawford sealing the victory with minutes to go.
The deserved win saw the club book their place at Hampden for a FIFTH time this year, after going all the way in the League and Scottish Cups last term.
Of course, Rooney and his team-mates are desperate to taste more cup success at the national stadium – especially in front of a full-house.
But the 25-year-old admits finishing third this season is also a huge target for Callum Davidson’s side.
He said: “Hopefully we can do it again. I would love to see it and retain the title. We’ll see how it goes.
“The fans missed out on so much last season but we wanted to prove we could do it all again this season.
“So far we have and hopefully we can take them on another trip to the final.
“I think it’s the team effort. Everybody just wants to do so well. Even in the league, we’ve been unlucky.
“We go into cup games with the same attitude. We always want to win games – and get the win bonus!
“Europe took its toll on us a wee bit but we’ve recharged the batteries, are ready to go again and can hopefully kick on.
“We came back in with a desire to finish third in the league and get back to Hampden again.
“We’re already there once and hopefully we can get back in the Scottish Cup as well.
“We want to finish third in the league. It will obviously be a tough ask but we want to be in Europe again next season.”
To achieve such a feat, the club will need to build on their huge away win at Pittodrie last weekend against Jack Ross’ Hibs this Sunday.
Excited about the challenge, he added: “I’m looking forward to it. We did well against them last season and hopefully we can do that again.
“We’ve got a good run of fixtures. Hopefully we keep on winning and get higher up the league.”
Rooney clearly loves a goal in the League Cup having scored in the quarters, semis and the winning goal in the final in the 20/21 campaign.
He will be hoping his efforts bear similar rewards this time around.
He said: “That’s a few goals now so keep them coming.
“It reminded me of the Dunfermline game last season. First half we didn’t really get going.
“But once we scored, we settled down and then Ali Crawford scored a good goal.
“It was a great ball in from Callum Booth and he showed great desire.”
Meanwhile, Dundee defender Liam Fontaine echoed his manager’s thoughts but telling his team-mates they need to become more ruthless in front of goal.
The Dens outfit created numerous good chances in the opening 45-minutes of the cup tie versus Saints, but the finishing touches could not be mastered to score the all-important goals.
Jordan McGhee went closest in the first half with a close-range header, but it lacked the direction to beat Zander Clark.
Paul McMullan then missed a golden opportunity at the very start of the second after a Leigh Griffiths free-kick, but again Clark saved.
Fontaine said: “That’s cup football and we need to start putting the ball in the back of the net. If you’ve been watching us we’ve been creating lots of chances.
“We’re a good team with great togetherness. You get tested in football. We could be playing a lot worse. We need to keep that faith in our ability and in our team-mates.
“In the second half, I feel like we dominated the game. I don’t think that’s disrespectful to say.
“Then you concede one like we did, the way it rolled in, it’s just the way thing are currently.
“We just need to be a little bit more ruthless by converting our chances.”