St Patrick’s Athletic succumbed to their first defeat of the season after a thoroughly unexpected last 15 minute fight back from 10-man Dundalk at Richmond Park on Monday night.
The Saints were in control for almost the entire game, but suffering from the age old problem of failing to convert possession into goals they fell to a first loss to move them back to third spot.
Mark Griffin struck two free kicks from an identical position into either corner to give Dundalk their first win in five games in the league and also their first win in five games against the Saints.
The goals were timed perfectly for Dundalk, one with 12 minutes left and one right on the whistle.
It didn’t look like a game too far for Buckley’s side, it was more their problem of failing to score which hurt them. Chris Forrester’s headed opener was lost in a half which will easily be Sean McCaffrey’s best so far as Dundalk boss.
Another exhibition of the home side’s passing credentials were evident from the outset, with Greg Bolger, Ger O’Brien and John Russell all highly involved in the middle of the pitch. Like clockwork, Ian Bermingham continued to creep around Ben McLaughlin at right back for Dundalk, the space being vacated by Jake Kelly who sought more possession in field.
However as the famous saying goes, possession is only nine tenths of the law. This will be a phrase in the back of most St Pat’s fans minds, and they would be vindicated in thinking so. Despite the lovely play, Pat’s failed to create many goal scoring chances, with free-kicks and corners the Inchicore side’s only opportunities.
Kenny Browne and Christy Fagan both went close, but Browne’s header was too high from a Bolger corner, whilst Fagan’s free kick was deflected goal bound but hacked off the line by Ben McLaughlin.
Dundalk offered little as St Pat’s controlled the ball and kept the Lilywhites’ banks of four and five busy, leaving Michael Rafter chasing scraps in attack a frustrating job for the frontman.
That frustration did boil over for Rafter, who let it all out in the tunnel at half time when he remarkable struck one of his own players, before being sent off by the referee Graham Kelly.
Peter Cherrie, who was a close runner with Griffin for the man of the match award, produced a fantastic save from Dean Kelly to prevent Pat’s taking a 2-0 lead. Bolger, Forrester and Fagan all shot wide as well as poor defending from Osbourne to allow O’Brien in, but he was saved.
Griffin’s first goal came about after a good run that resulted in him winning a free after being tripped by Russell. The resulting kick was put right into the top corner, leaving no chance for Saints stopper Brendan Clarke.
Wedged between the two goals were good chances for a number of Pat’s players, but each effort was blocked away and hacked clear.
And with time almost up, Dundalk’s John Mountney raided forward and was hacked down by Conor Kenna, Griffin found the far corner from almost the same spot as his first after a poor attempt to save by Brendan Clarke.
St Patrick’s Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Ger O’Brien, Conor Kenna, Kenny Browne, Ian Bermingham; Pat Flynn, John Russell, Greg Bolger; Christopher Forrester, Christy Fagan (Ian Daly 73), Jake Kelly (Dean Kelly 46).
Subs not used: Barry Murphy, Jake Carroll, Eoin Hyland, Ryan Coombes, Aidan Price.
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; Ben McLaughlin, Derek Foran, Liam Burns, Eoghan Osbourne; Robert Waters (Mark Griffin 46), Peter Thomas (Paul Walsh, 33), John Mountney, Chris Shields, Stephen McDonnell (Bob McKenna 46); Michael Rafter.
Subs not used: Ger Hanley, Gary Shanahan, Gareth Coughlan, Nathan Murphy.
Referee: Graham Kelly.
Official attendance: 1,090
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: Mark Griffin.