Rory Patterson. It’s a name that will never be forgotten on Foyleside after the Northern Ireland striker came off to bench to score twice for Derry City and secure the FAI Cup for a fifth time at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday.
Similar to their last success in 2006 and against the same opposition, extra-time was required as Patterson became the hero with his 105th minute winner.
It was just a pity that such a great evening for the domestic game had one team on the losing side. That it was St Patrick’s Athletic, a club starved of cup success for 51 years, ended up defeated was cruel for all concerned with the Inchicore club. But there was no taking away from the Candystripes’ moment of glory.
A drab first half played out like a game of chess was soon forgotten thanks to a fantastically frantic second half which yielded four goals. Yet for the fifth time in seven years, the game needed more than the regulatory 90 minutes, Patterson pouncing at the dying embers of the first additional period to send the 7,000 thousand or so that made the journey south into raptures.
Evenly contested from the first whistle to the last, there wasn’t a hint of surprise when the game finished 2-2 at the end of normal time.
Though the opening 45 was forgettable because of the chaos that followed, the Saints looked stronger in the opening exchanges and created the first chance through a keenly-watched Chris Forrester 13 minutes in; the Smithfield youngster’s effort from the D swerving six inches wide of Gerard Doherty’s left-handed post.
A selection of representatives from cross-channel clubs, including Sunderland, were in attendance to watch the Saints midfielder. And although some of those in the crowd paid very close attention to him, the same could be said for the Derry midfield, who tracked his every move.
Declan Devine used Barry Molloy in a holding role, neatly perched in front of the back four in an attempt to cut out Forrester and co’s runs forward. With both sides employing a lone-striker policy, it made for an at times congested middle third, though the Saints were in control of a larger share of the ball.
Pat McEleney struck the northerners’ first shot in anger just after the quarter of an hour mark but it caused no reason for Brendan Clarke to fret between the Saints’ posts and the shadow-boxing soon resumed.
Jake Carroll became the first booking of the afternoon with 18 minutes played after showing his studs in a challenge with Stewart Greacen near halfway and three minutes later the midfielder limped off, unable to continue after picking up an injury in the collision.
A succession of corners from Pat’s failed to lead to anything of note, with Molloy and Greacen putting their heads to the incoming missiles. One cross did make its way to a navy shirt though, Jake Kelly heading over from eight yards following a lovely lofted pass from the left by Sean O’Connor with 10 minutes to play until the interval.
But Derry maintained their high-intensity stifling mission. James Chambers wasn’t given as much space as he desired to control the play as the Candystripes’ job of harrying the Inchicore side worked out as well as they could have hoped. They played some football too, of course, David McDaid going for the spectacular with an overhead kick on 40, following a Simon Madden cross, which sailed over the bar.
Yet at the interval, one statistic said it all: zero attempts on target. So often in cup finals, players become so afraid of making a mistake that tentative performances verge on a level of tepidness not as common in games of lesser importance.
Few could, of course, blame them for such a cautious approach. Many of these players are unlikely to take to the field at the Aviva again, after all, but it was heart-warming for the wet and weary 16,117 inside the south Dublin venue that the script of the opening 45 was discontinued and ripped to shreds on the resumption.
Pat’s came out of the blocks a little quicker and they were rewarded thanks to a moment of brilliance from O’Connor in the 53rd minute. Forrester was fouled by Dermot McCaffrey just over 20 yards from goal and O’Connor, who also tasted defeat in a Pat’s shirt at the hands of Derry in the 2006 final, curled a sumptuous effort into the top right corner of the net, leaving Doherty static.
The lead didn’t last long, however. It took Derry just two minutes to level thanks to the forehead of Stewart Greacen. The dominant centre-half rose highest from a cluster of players six yards from goal to nod home a wonderfully weighted Barry McNamee cross from the right touchline.
The Saints won another free from a similar position as O’Connor’s beauty on 65, when Forrester was upended again. Ger O’Brien, with O’Connor also standing over the ball, opted to take it, but Doherty did well to palm the ball away at full stretch.
Again, there was only a two minute interval between that effort and Derry’s second. Clarke’s blatant shove on McLaughlin gave referee Neil Doyle no other option but to point towards the spot and Patterson, on the field just 10 minutes as a substitute, stepped up to strike calmly into the bottom left corner.
Forrester came close to levelling with a glancing header which strayed millimetres wide of the mark with Doherty flapping on 72, but there was to be one more twist before the 90 was up.
Ger O’Brien swung a cross in from the right, O’Connor added to it and Doherty could only parry it back in the direction of the Saints winger. O’Connor played it back towards goal and Fagan pounced from three yards to take the cup final to extra-time once again.
O’Connor had a great chance 12 minutes into extra-time when he side-footed a Forrester cross wide but seconds later Patterson struck again following a long punt forward which was knocked on by Ruaidhri Higgins.
That ended up being the decisive moment as St Pat's search for an equaliser was repelled by the Derry defence,Vinny Faherty coming closest with a header which landed on the roof of the net.
Derry City: Ger Doherty; Simon Madden, Stewart Greacen (Ryan McBride 97), Shane McEleney, Dermot McCaffrey; Pat McEleney (Rory Patterson 59), Barry Molloy, Kevin Deery, Barry McNamee (Ruaidhri Higgins 81), Stephen McLaughlin; David McDaid.
Subs not used: Eugene Ferry, Mark Farren, Mark Brolly, Caoimhin Bonner.
Booked: Molloy (64), Patterson (69), Doherty (109), Higgins (116).
St Patrick’s Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Ger O’Brien (Pat Flynn 105), Conor Kenna, Kenny Browne, Ian Bermingham; Sean O’Connor, Chris Forrester, James Chambers, Jake Carroll (John Russell 23), Jake Kelly (Vinny Faherty 46); Christy Fagan.
Subs not used: Barry Murphy, Aidan Price, Ryan Coombes, Anto Flood.
Booked: Carroll (18), Chambers (110), O’Connor (115).
Referee: Neil Doyle.
Official attendance: 16,117
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: Rory Patterson (Derry City).