League leaders St Patrick’s Athletic maintained their impressive recent form with a 3-0 victory over Limerick in Richmond Park on Saturday.
On a glorious sunny Saturday in Inchicore, the Saints made it 16 unbeaten in all competitions, claiming all three points to make it 10 wins and three draws from their last 13 matches in the Airtricity League.
Strikes from the impressive Killian Brennan in the first half and goals in the second by substitute Anto Flood and then Jake Kelly in injury time mean Pat’s have scored 22 goals in their last seven games.
Just three minutes into the game Pat’s won themselves a corner after the Limerick defence had to scramble a Barry Ryan save behind from an Ian Bermingham shot. The Pat’s left-back linked up well with Jake Kelly in front of him throughout the game causing Limerick lots of difficulty.
Both sides have players who are very adept from making the most of set pieces. For the home team Killian Brennan tried his luck with a free-kick from 30 yards after Stephen Bradley had taken down Pat’s Jake Kelly in the 12th minute but Brennan’s effort went behind for a corner. At the other end of the pitch, Shane Tracy was dangerous with a number of crosses sent towards Rory Gaffney who was leading the Limerick line.
Chris Forrester went on one of his trademark mazy runs for Pat’s mid-way through the half ghosting past the Limerick defence but he could only find the side net when maybe he should have centred.
Limerick defender Stephen Folan didn’t want to leave a leg in for fear of giving away a penalty; a spot kick from Killian Brennan was the difference between the teams when they met in the league earlier in the season.
And it was Brennan who made sure the home side took a 1-0 lead into the half-time break. The goal came from a dreadful back pass by Folan that Christy Fagan ran onto. Limerick ‘keeper Barry Ryan came rushing out the box to block but the ball ran towards Brennan. As Fagan looked to get the rebound, Brennan called him to let the ball run to the midfielder and he calmly side footed past the despairing dive of Ryan for the opener.
At times in the first half Limerick moved the ball sharply between Gaffney, Danny Galbraith and Joe Gamble but they had very little to show for it in the Pat’s box and they failed to register any decent chance of note in the opening period. The half ended with Ryan having to save from Chris Forrester after Pat’s fourth corner of the opening 45 minutes.
Limerick created their only real chance of the night eight minutes into the second half. David O'Leary's floated corner was flicked on to Gaffney at the Pat's back post. He controlled the ball on his chest but his shot went over the bar to the relief of the home support. This chance had come after Pat’s began the half with Jake Kelly going close after he cut in off a clever ball by Conan Byrne but his shot went straight at Ryan.
That was Byrne’s last involvement in the game as he limped off injured to be replaced by Shane McFaul. Having made that enforced change, Liam Buckley made a tactical switch on 56 minutes and it paid rich dividends a minute later.
The impressive Killian Brennan made the goal for the Saints. He won the ball on half-way line and looked up to see substitute Anto Flood, on the pitch only a minute, running clear on the right. Brennan’s ball fell beautifully to Flood who took a touch around the advancing Barry Ryan and from an acute angle, outside the box, rolled it into the empty net.
In the closing period of the game, St. Pat’s went close on a couple of occasions to adding to their total. First Limerick required substitute Brian O'Callaghan to clear one off the line after Brennan's corner fell to Conor Kenna.
Then Limerick were lucky when on 79 minutes Anto Flood’s shot was deflected onto the post off Stephen Folan but the ball travelled along the goal line but staying on the right side from the Shannonsiders perspective.
In injury time, Barry Ryan pulled off a superb double save as he first stopped Flood’s shot and then Jake Kelly’s follow up. But Kelly wasn’t to be denied, getting on the scoresheet as he added the third goal for the Saints from a Sean Gannon centre to wrap up the win and maintain Pat’s status as league leaders.
Limerick must look for their first league win in five games when they travel to Tallaght next Friday night for their final game before the mid-season break.
St. Patrick’s Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Ger O’Brien, Kenny Browne, Conor Kenna, Ian Birmingham; Christopher Forrester (Sean Gannon 73), Greg Bolger, Killian Brennan, Conan Byrne (Shane McFaul 49), Jake Kelly; Christy Fagan (Anthony Flood 56).
Subs Not Used: Dave Ryan, Aidan Price, Jake Carroll, Stephen Maher.
Booked: Greg Bolger (24), Jake Kelly (37).
Limerick FC: Barry Ryan; Patrick Nzuzi, Stephen Folan, Aaron Browne (Brian O’Callaghan h/t), Robbie Williams (James McGrath 71); David O'Leary, Danny Galbraith, Joe Gamble (Val Feeney 83), Stephen Bradley, Shane Tracy; Rory Gaffney.
Subs Not Used: Shane Cusack, Jeffrey Judge, Shane Costelloe, Barry Sheedy.
Booked: Rory Gaffney (61).
Referee: Paul McLaughlin.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Killian Brennan.