A second half brace from Conan Byrne coupled with a rare goal from Kenny Browne sealed all three points for the reigning SSE Airtricity League champions over Cork City on a very wet night in Inchicore on Friday night.
The Saints were made to work hard for their win after an opener from Mark O’Sullivan had Cork up, albeit against the run of play. Substitute Rob Lehane scored a second for Cork late in the second half. In a flat performance from the Leesiders they will have been unhappy to have given up as much possession as they did.
St. Pat’s were good value for their win with Lee Lynch impressive throughout for the Dublin side; the midfielder connected well with winger Conan Byrne to leave Cork City captain, John Dunleavy, with a performance to forget. It was the man of the moment, Chris Forrester, fresh from picking up his SWAI Player of the Month award, who was the chief creator for his side as he lay on the winner for Browne only before a penalty from Conan Byrne drew them level.
St. Patrick’s Athletic only had the luxury of having their top goal scorer, Christy Fagan, on for a mere three minutes of the game when a rough challenge from Dan Murray called a halt to proceedings. The challenge used by Murray to lay down a marker drew the ire from the Pat’s faithful but referee, Padraigh Sutton, let Murray off with a warning.
The first goal on the 15th minute mark came from the visitors, against the run of play, but will go down as one of the more fortunate goals this season.
Gearóid Morrissey released Liam Kearney down the left hand side. His early cross was met by Mark O’Sullivan who scrambled the ball into the net.
On the 23rd minute Daryl Kavanagh, a replacement for Fagan, found himself on the end of a pass from Keith Fahey. Fahey had gone on a marauding run down the heart of the Cork defence but Kavanagh couldn’t capitalize on his team mate’s good work. His wayward shot found James Chambers on the edge of the box who couldn’t keep his effort down.
Billy Dennehy created one of Cork’s best chances coming up to the half hour mark when he whipped in a dangerous cross into the path of Mark O’Sullivan but he couldn’t do enough to score a second.
The second half was a lot more threatening and lively then the first. The excellent Ian Bermingham was put in behind from a wonderful ball from Forrester but the panicking Cork defence looked to stop the attack and it was right back, Brian Lenihan, who brought down Bermingham leaving the referee with no other alternative. Conan Byrne then stepped up to slot home the penalty much to the delight of the home crowd.
Sensing an opportunity to grab a second St Patrick’s Athletic manager, Liam Buckley, urged his team on and the momentum that they built up resulted in a second 10 minutes after the first.
An over-hit corner found Chris Forrester on the left who twisted and turned around the defence to lay on a wonderful cross for the onrushing Kenny Browne to score what St. Patrick’s Athletic thought was the winner.
Substitute for Cork, Rob Lehane, found himself in with a wonderful chance moments after coming into the game when he intercepted a wayward pass from Ger O’Brien to round the helpless Brendan Clarke in the St. Patrick’s Athletic net to score Cork’s second.
The resilient Pat’s team went again in search of a winner but coming into injury time seemed like they would have to settle for a second draw in a week but had man of the match Conan Byrne was on hand to score the winner and give the home side all three points.
St. Patrick’s Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Ger O’Brien, Sean Hoare, Kenny Browne, Ian Bermingham; Conan Byrne, Keith Fahey, James Chambers (Killian Brennan 80), Lee Lynch, Chris Forrester (Greg Bolger 87); Christy Fagan (Daryl Kavanagh 3).
Subs not used: Rene Gilmartin (gk), Conor McCormack, Lorcan Fitzgerald, Ken Oman.
Booked: Browne (71), Chambers (74), Forrester (79).
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Brian Lenihan, Darren Dennehy, Dan Murray, John Dunleavy (c); Liam Kearney (Ian Turner 80), Gearóid Morrissey, Colin Healy, Garry Buckley (Rob Lehane 79), Billy Dennehy; Mark O’Sullivan.
Subs not used: Matt Gledhill (gk), Iarfhlaith Davoren, Andy O’Connell, Anthony Elding, David O’Leary.
Booked: Lenihan (53), McNulty (54), Murray (76).
Referee: Padraigh Sutton
Extratime Man of the Match: Conan Byrne (St Pats Ath)