Dundalk left Inchicore with all three points thanks to goals from John Dillon and Kurtis Byrne either side of a Conan Byrne strike. The win leaves the lilywhites in third with 11 points from their first six games.
For St Pats however, a poor overall display and individual mistakes from Ger O’Brien and Brendan Clarke cost them dear as they looked to build on their away win in Limerick last week
It took almost ten minutes for the first effort on goal to be registered and it was the visitors who had the opportunity. Vinny Faherty could only glance John Dillon's sweeping cross wide of the post. A half chance from a free kick for Saints midfielder Sean Gannon was sandwiched in between another Faherty chance, this time Clarke claimed the header.
The Saints fluidity and passing movement that was their hallmark last year was not evident in the early stages in Richmond Park. Sloppy play from Jake Carroll allowed Dundalk midfielder Keith Ward to dispossess him in the 19th minute. Ward drove into the Saints area and unleashed a stinging drive that Clarke had to claim at the second attempt.
Two minutes later more poor play from the Saints midfield allowed Kurtis Byrne in on goal but his lobbed effort went way over the bar. Saints striker Christy Fagan did have the best opportunity of the first 20 minutes. Sean Gannon lofted a pass toward the striker and he controlled it superbly but sliced his shot wide of goal.
Dundalk were bossing the game by the half hour mark, with St Pat’s struggling to hold onto the ball. It was a good thing that Saints‘ keeper Brendan Clarke was tuned in as he was at full stretch to keep out a 30-yard John Dillon thunderbolt, touching behind for a corner.
Dundalk’s pressure told when they opened the scoring on the 40th minute through John Dillon's penalty after Keith Ward was taken down in the box by Ger O’Brien. The chance originally came from a Richie Towell ball which Kurtis Byrne latched onto in the Saints box. Byrne’s strike was palmed brilliantly onto the post by Brendan Clarke, but the rebounding ball fell to Keith Ward, and O’Brien reached for the ball but unfortunately for himself and St Pat’s he could only reach the man. Dillon dispatched the penalty low to Clarke’s left, sending the ‘keeper the wrong way.
Liam Buckley addressed the Saints first half slump by bringing Killian Brennan and Conan Byrne in to replace the ineffectual Jake Carroll and Jake Kelly. The changes did breathe some life into St Pats and they were first to register an effort on goal in the second half through Greg Bolger.
A smart move by St Pats nearly heralded the equaliser, but Brennan’s strike was turned behind for a corner by Peter Cherrie and the corner was dealt with by the Dundalk defence.
Pats pressure did begin to tell from this point on and the equaliser came on the hour mark. Excellent work down the left saw Ian Bermingham cross for Gannon whose strike was palmed away by Cherrie, however Gannon got to the rebound and squared the ball to Conan Byrne who steered home the leveller.
Parity only lasted for two minutes. The homeside were reminded of their Cup Final howler as Ger O’Brien passed the ball back to Brendan Clarke, who tried to be clever and lost the ball on the six yard line and Kurtis Byrne will never have an easier finish. All the good work of the first 15 minutes of the half undone by a minute of madness from Clarke.
Killian Brennan tried to respond on his own from a free kick from twenty yards, however his shot from 20 yards only found the side netting, fooling many of the Saints faithful into thinking he had scored.
Dundalk looked comfortable as the second half wore on, and having re-establishing their lead, they didn’t need to push on, the ball was now firmly in the Saints court.
The Saints were now entering the last ten minutes looking to lay siege to the Dundalk goal. Despite dominating possession and penning Dundalk back in their own half, the Louth side looked defensively comfortable with whatever the Dubliners threw at them.
Dundalk did have a scary few moments however when Christy Fagan struck the ball towards the goal with Mark Rossiter looking to send the ball behind for a corner with the use of his arm. Kelly said no and awarded the corner. The Saints players were fuming and surrounded the Corkman.
Dundalk held on despite a late scurry and five minutes of added time, and now roll on to Friday to play Limerick at home in Oriel Park. For the Saints, it seems as if teams have learned how to play against the Saints passing game, and with Bray away on Friday and Pat Devlin in attendance tonight, Liam Buckley might want to start on a Plan B.
St Patrick's Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Ger O’Brien, Conor Kenna, Kenny Browne, Ian Bermingham; Sean Gannon (Anto Flood, 76), Jake Carroll (Killian Brennan 46), Greg Bolger; Jake Kelly (Conan Byrne 46), Christy Fagan, Christopher Forrester.
Subs Not Used: Dave Ryan, Aidan Price, John Russell, Jordan Keegan.
Booked: Ian Bermingham, Ger O’Brien, Killian Brennan.
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; John Sullivan, Mark Rossiter, Andrew Boyle, Dane Massey; Keith Ward (Stephen McDonnell, 67), John Mountney (Chris Shields, 50), Richie Towell, John Dillon (Darren Meenan, 77); Kurtis Byrne, Vinny Faherty.
Subs not used: Aaron Shanahan, Eoghan Osbourne, Tiarnan Mulvenna, Pat Hoban.
Booked: Dane Massey, John Dillon
Referee: Alan Kelly.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Richie Towell (Dundalk) - He ran the game for the Lilywhites both his touch and control were superb.
Damien Byrne joined the Extratime.ie team for the 2012 season. He is a Dublin based freelance reporter who is partial to a Friday in Richmond Park, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter at @damienbyrne92