segunda-feira, 17 de outubro de 2016

League Report: St Patrick's Athletic 3 - 1 Cork City

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St. Patrick’s Athletic all but ended this season’s title race in front of 369 spectators at Richmond Park on Monday night, as a magnificent Sam Verdon winner in the dying stages plus a late Conan Byrne penalty condemned Cork City to a 3-1 defeat and an inevitable third successive year runner’s up to champions Dundalk in the Premier Division.

A poor attendance was not to be unexpected with other, perhaps more high-profile games across the Irish Sea taking preference for many. While St. Pat’s’ own poor league campaign meandering towards a mid-table conclusion may have been too much for some supporters on a cold October evening, facing the opposition which denied them what would have been a redeeming FAI Cup final next month versus Dundalk.

Manager Liam Buckley confessed he wanted his side to compete until the very last in the Premier Division this season following their semi-final FAI Cup exit to Tuesday’s opponents Cork City. He added that he wanted his side to have some say in the title run-in, with this the first of two meetings with title hopefuls City this week.

Christy Fagan gave Buckley’s side the lead after 16 minutes when he used former team-mate Kenny Browne as a stop-gap decoy following a neat pass through a hole in the City defence from defender Michael Barker.

Fagan let the ball cross his body superbly before regaining possession on his weaker left foot and dispatching it under the dive of Mark McNulty and into the back of the net. Cork visibly lacked the motivation this game may have promised had they pulled a result against Dundalk at Oriel Park last week.

Karl Sheppard rallied time after time with good deliveries from former St. Pat’s midfield general Greg Bolger into the box providing ample service in the air.

Two fine headers flew just a whisper over Brendan Clarke’s cross-bar after another chance followed poor judgement from Darren Dennehy at centre-back for St. Pat’s, which saw Sheppard run into the box completely unchallenged, only to be prevented his goal after a poor connection saw his effort sliced to the side of the post.

A spark of hope lit up the Inchicore night sky a Rebel red and green when his team-mate Stephen Dooley was the one who provided the critical assist for the equalizer on the stroke of half-time. His corner was nudged into the top corner by defender Alan Bennett after a late run to the front post.

With Dundalk at this time 2-0 ahead versus bottom-placed Longford Town, the four point gap which divided first and second had now grown to six. But Caufield’s charges continued into the second period vying for the lead knowing a win would preserve any last lingering chance of a first league title for a Cork side since 2005.

But the goal was not forthcoming, with the most eventful occurrence at the hour mark being the departure of an injured Michael Barker to be replaced by Sam Verdon. This after Gary Buckley’s shot from inside the box was blocked bravely by former City defender Darren Dennehy due to a poor clearance from Brendan Clarke in goal.

City picked up following the introduction of Dave Mulcahy and promising Under-19 winger Chiedozie Ogbene. Ogbene took to the game superbly, immediately dribbling menacingly at Ger O’Brien before selflessly setting up Sean Maguire centred just inside the box, however the in-form striker who is the Premier Division’s lead goalscorer with 16, leaned back on his venture and struck the ball over the cross-bar.

But Pat’s struck gold after 84 minutes when Conan Byrne laid the ball off for substitute Verdon who curled a magnificent effort straight into the top corner to steal the lead and hand Dundalk all but mathematically this season’s title.

St. Pat’s added insult to injury when Alan Bennett hauled down Jamie McGrath inside the area, with Conan Byrne dispatching the penalty in injury time to make it 3-1.

The result sees Cork trail Stephen Kenny’s by seven points in second spot with three games and, crucially, a cup final left to play.

St. Patrick’s Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Ger O’Brien (Rory Feely 79), Darren Dennehy, Sean Hoare, Ian Bermingham; Michael Barker (Sam Verdon 58), Graham Kelly (Billy Dennehy 89), Lee Desmond, Conan Byrne, Jamie McGrath, Christy Fagan
Subs not used: Pat Jennings (gk), Darragh Markey, Mark Timlin, Dinny Corcoran
Bookings: Ian Bermingham (86).

Cork City: Mark McNulty; Steven Beattie, Alan Bennett, Kenny Browne, Kevin O’Connor; Gary Buckley, Greg Bolger, Gavan Holohan (Chiedozie Ogbene 73), Stephen Dooley (Mark O’Sullivan 82), Karl Sheppard (Dave Mulcahy 70); Sean Maguire
Subs not used: Eric Grimes (gk), Georóid Morrissey, Michael McSweeney
Bookings: None.

Referee: Ben Connolly.
Attendance: 369. Man of the Match: Karl Sheppard (Cork City).

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