Goals in either half from Stephen O’Flynn and John Russell gave St. Patrick’s Athletic all three points with a straight forward victory against Dundalk at Oriel Park on Friday night.
It was visitors who made the brighter opening and after having a corner cleared it wasn’t long before they went in front. On nine minutes a sublime ball into the box from ex-Lilywhite Greg Bolger fell to Dean Kelly who squared for Stephen O'Flynn who slotted home from eight yards.
Bolger himself had a chance to make it two with a dipping shot from 25 yards and it wasn’t until twenty minutes that the home side really got into the visitors half when they won a free-kick 25 yards out on the left. The delivery from Stephen McDonnell forced a corner which was cleared and that was the closest the Lilywhites came in the opening stages.
Dundalk did engineer another chance when Dan Cunningham’s free-kick went inches over Brendan Clarke’s crossbar on 32 minutes, but Pat’s then came close to doubling their lead. After a mis-judgement by Derek Foran, Stephen O’Flynn set Kelly away down the left and his cross was met by Seán O’Connor who headed into the side netting.
That was effectively the last chance of the first half and the visitors went in a half-time with a fully deserved 1-0 lead.
Minutes after the re-start it was Dundalk who created the first chance of the second period, an in-swinging corner from McDonnell which was met at the back post by John Mountney. His header crashed against the crossbar with Clarke beaten and the follow up shot by Rob Waters was blocked on the line. Shortly after the Lilywhites had another chance to equalise when Waters squared it to Shane O’Neill who’s shot from 20 yards was saved well by Clarke.
Pat’s then made the home side rue those missed chances when, somewhat against the run of play, they doubled their lead on 53 minutes. Bolger played a good ball into John Russell who, with time and space, calmly shot past Peter Cherrie.
Pat’s were well in control at this stage and should have made it three when Ian Bermingham burst forward on the left and squared to O’Flynn, but his shot ended up wide of the target.
After a period of scrappy play, with Dundalk having a few half chances, it was Pat’s who had yet another chance to add to their lead when O’Flynn found space on the edge of the area, but he only managed to shoot wide of Cherrie’s right hand post.
Pat’s had a great chance to make it three in the 88th minute when substitute Ian Daly found Greg Bolger who shot narrowly wide after Cherrie had narrowed the angle well.
Pat’s were in control of the closing stages as Dundalk, with much effort but very little product, tried desperately to get back into the game. It finished 2-0 to the Saints as the Inchicore side comfortably beat the Lilywhites who looked bereft of ideas at the border venue.
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; Derek Foran, Liam Burns, Luke Danville, Dan Cunningham; Gary Shanahan (Bob McKenna ‘59), John Mountney, Stephen McDonnell, Robert Waters, Shane O’Neill (Gareth Coughlan ‘76); Michael Rafter (Chris Reilly ‘59).
Unused subs: Ger Hanley (GK), Paul Walsh, Nathan Murphy, Cian Byrne.
St. Patrick’s Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Ger O’Brien, Kenny Browne, Conor Kenna, Ian Bermingham; John Russell, Greg Bolger, James Chambers, Seán O’Connor; Stephen O’Flynn (Ian Daly ‘73), Dean Kelly (Darren Meenan ‘79).
Unused subs: Barry Murphy (GK), Jake Carroll, Pat Flynn, Mark Rossiter, Christopher Forrester.
Bookings: Kenna (18), Bolger (70).
Referee: Paul McLaughlin.
Attendance: 1,500 (estimate)
Extratime.ie man of the match: Greg Bolger. His passing was a joy to behold at times and tore Dundalk apart.