Two goals from defender Kenny Browne helped St Patrick’s Athletic to a 3-1 win over Bangor Celtic as their first competitive game of the season saw them go through to the quarter-finals of the Leinster Senior Cup.
In the end St Pats were well worth their two goal winning margin, dominating large swathes of the game, but a sleepy start had seen them go behind to their Leinster Senior League opponents after just three minutes.
Bangor left back Andy Farrell was the man who created the opening, threading a ball into the path of Michael Fox who was left with the relatively easy task of finding the net from just a few feet out. And Bangor continued to cause problems for their Airtricity League hosts through the opening fifteen minutes.
When St Pats did find a foothold in the game it came via the industry of Conan Byrne and Ger O’Brien on their right flank. As the balance of possession shifted back towards Liam Buckley’s men Byrne in particular began to make hay, forcing a series of corners that eventually led to a deserved equaliser.
It came after 20 minutes when Byrne’s corner from the right picked out centre back Kenny Browne who headed over the line from close range. From this point on Pats were utterly dominant and they exhausted Bangor with ceaseless pressure, the bulk of which was channeled down the right.
Bangor would surely have been pleased to make it to half-time on level terms but it was not to be. Right on 45 minutes another series of corners bombarded the Bangor defence before Kenny Browne drove one of them home from six yards out.
Nor was there to be any change in the game’s dynamic after the break. Pats continued to turn the screw with Byrne reprising his role of tormentor in chief. Ger O’Brien found Fagan with a cross on 54 minutes that led to a well directed header which lacked the necessary pace. Byrne then provided Fagan with a cross that prompted a diving header which was only kept out by some heroic defending.
The final half hour yielded a host of half chances with Jake Carroll and Sean Gannon each trying their luck from distance while a delightful ball from Fagan gave substitute Anto Flood the chance to step inside his man and test Bangor keeper Stephen Conlon.
Bangor rallied briefly in the final quarter, Ronan Byrne almost releasing Eoin Lanigan on 73 minutes, but a superb move gave Pats the killer third goal six minutes from the end. Flood played Fagan into space and the striker’s shot was only partially blocked, the ball spinning free in front of an open goal which Sean Gannon happily nudged over the line.
St Patrick’s Ath: Brendan Clarke; Ger O’Brien, Conor Kenna, Kenny Browne, Jake Carroll; Conan Byrne, Sean Gannon, Greg Bolger (Conor Mahoney 88), John Russell (Conor Murphy 79), Jordan Keegan (Anto Flood 58); Christy Fagan.
Subs not used: Peter Durrard, Stephen Dunne, Marco Chindea, Aaron Rockford.
Bangor Celtic: Stephen Conlon; Ian Roche, Barry Burke, Robbie Porter, Andy Farrell (Stephen Sibbald 79); Michael Fox, Laurence Dunne (Cormac Doolin 79), Hussain Yazdani, David Freeman, Ronan Byrne; Eoin Lanigan (Paul Devlin 79).
Subs not used: Kevin Dempsey, Derek Fay, Dean Bolland, Joseph Courtney.
Bookings: Farrell (72).
Referee: Ray Harvey.
Extratime Man of the Match: Conan Byrne (St Pats Ath).
Simon O'Gorman began reporting for Extratime in 2010. He remembers Milltown and Flower Lodge and, back in the mists of time, saw Diego Maradona play at Lansdowne Road. He now lives in Co Kildare and reports on Shamrock Rovers among others. Simon can be contacted at email@example.com