St. Patrick's Athletic moved clear at the top of the Airtricity League Premier Division thanks to their second two-goal defeat of Galway United this season. The Inchicore outfit suffered badly when faced with maroon shirts last year, but it's a different tale now as they comfortably saw off Sean Connor's depleted side.
Pete Mahon's outfit now boast an impressive eight clean sheets from their ten games played, but will surely not have many easier fixtures than this one as they now begin to look like genuine title contenders.
Galway grabbed a lead within 80 seconds on Friday night, and on this occasion there was another early goal but it was the visitors who gave the Inchicore faithful who had travelled something to cheer when Paul Byrne collected Brian Cash's low cross on five minutes and beat Barry Ryan with some ease with a well-placed, if cumbersome, shot into the bottom corner.
His strike partner, former home favourite Vinny Faherty, soon stung the hands of Ryan with a crisp shot. Galway struggled to string a couple of meaningful passes together, and without Derek O'Brien or Bobby Ryan to offer penetrative width on the flanks, the creative juices were running very dry.
St. Pat's, on the other hand, were cutting through the United rearguard at will with some neat one-touch passing which, aided by some less than assured defending, led to numerous anxious moments for the Galwegians. This turned to despair in the 20th minute when Stuart Byrne threaded the eye of a needle with a crisp strike from just outside the box, finding the bottom corner for his first of the season.
The league leaders were now in cruise control, and could have gone further into the distance when Ryan's attempted clearance was blocked by Paul Byrne but the rebound was cleared by Paul Sinnott before Faherty could get a goal-scoring touch.
It took 31 minutes for Gary Rogers to taste any meaningful action, and even then it was to collect a driven cross from Karl Sheppard that came his way. Tom King, making his first league start of the campaign, had claims for a penalty waved away when his cross was blocked by the right hand of Ian Bermingham, who was saved by the lack of time he had to pull his arm out of the way.
Galway attempted to wake from their slumber as Pat's dozed in the closing 15 minutes of the half, but they could not force a comeback goal despite a good effort from Sheppard; Dave McAlllister tried to replicate his Friday night strike but Ryan was equal to the shot.
The second half then ambled along with little or no hope of a Galway comeback, until the home crowd's ire was stoked with 15 minutes remaining. Cash darted on to a flick and appeared to be tugged back by Meynell, who struggled to cope with the winger all night.
Neil Doyle appeared to point for a spot kick much to the disgust of Barry Ryan, who dispatched the ball far into the distance. In no time, Mr. Doyle had flashed a straight red at the Clare man, to his and everyone else presents' amazement.
The only viable conclusions that could be drawn was that Mr. Doyle took Ryan's actions as a deliberate attempt to strike him with the ball or that Ryan verbally abused him. Whatever the reason, Galway were now forced to place Meynell in goals for the second time this season, and he managed to keep a clean sheet of sorts as St. Pat's failed to add to their tally ahead of Friday night's encounter with Shamrock Rovers.
Galway United: Barry Ryan; Seamus Conneely, Jamie McKenzie, Paul Sinnott, Rhys Meynell; Tom King, Stephen O'Donnell (Jason Molloy, 66), Cian McBrien, James Creaney (Thomas Heary, 58); Karl Sheppard (Jonathan Keane, 79), Anto Flood.
Unused Subs: Cian McBrien, Dan Keady.
St. Patrick's Athletic: Gary Rogers, Ian Bermingham, Conor Kenna, Shane Guthrie, Damian Lynch; Gareth Coughlan (Ryan Guy, 84), Stuart Byrne, Dave McAllister (Dave Mulcahy, 87), Brian Cash; Paul Byrne (Alex Williams, 89), Vinny Faherty.
Unused Subs: Dan Connor, Derek Pender.
Referee: Neil Doyle.
extratime Man of the Match: Brian Cash.
is one of Extratime's longest serving contributors. Based in County Galway, Alan has been following the League of Ireland since the mid-1980s. His first memory of the drama of domestic football was Vinny Arkins, then of Shamrock Rovers, on the receiving end of some Terryland Park banter about his long, blond hairdo which was in need of a trim, while his favourite Galway Unted player of all time is Noel Mernagh.