An emphatic five goal display in the second half saw St. Patrick’s Athletic cement their top of the table position at the expense of UCD at Richmond Park on Tuesday night.
The Inchicore side might have just ascended to top spot in the league but with ten points gleaned from their previous four games UCD came into this game with as much a right to be called a ‘form team’ as their hosts.
Robbie Benson gave notice of the Student’s’ ambitions after just 11 minutes when he got on the end of David McMillan’s astute through ball to curl a shot off the top of the Pats bar and over. Moments later and Pats might have taken the lead themselves when John Russell headed wide with the goal at his mercy after a Chris Forrester cross opened up the UCD defence.
But after an even opening period it was Pats who began to assert their dominance. Only a superbly timed interception by David O’Connor kept the Saints out after Christy Fagan had released Ian Bermingham down the left on 17 minutes and Fagan volleyed weakly over the UCD bar two minutes later.
Conan Byrne then shot into the side netting from Ger O’Brien’s lay-off before Russell turned inside two markers only to chose a pass to Fagan instead of the more obvious shot. Fagan cradled his head in his hands as Craig Walsh intervened to clear.
The game then stalled somewhat before a late flurry reminded all present that it was the home team who were top of the league. Killian Brennan pinged a thirty yard free kick off the UCD crossbar on 41 minutes and two minutes later UCD ‘keeper Conor O’Donnell pulled off a terrific low save to deny Fagan. One minute before the half time whistle Chris Forrester flashed a shot inches wide with O’Donnell beaten in the visitor’s goal.
That sense of momentum carried into the second half and within two minutes of the restart Pats had the lead. O’Connor did well to head Forrester’s searching cross over his own bar but the subsequent corner provided the breakthrough. Kenny Browne met Conan Byrne’s delivery with a powerful header that O’Donnell saved at his right hand post, but Killian Brennan was on hand to hammer the rebound into the roof of the UCD net.
Five minutes later and Pats had another, Conan Byrne shooting low under O’Donnell having latched on to John Russell’s slide-rule pass through the middle. It was all suddenly so much easier for the home side and after another sweeping move down the left that led to a shot from distance by Greg Bolger, Martin Russell rang the changes for UCD, sending Tomas Boyle on for Craig Walsh and going with three at the back.
But the damage had been done and Pats were now so comfortable in charge of the football that UCD’s efforts were easily diluted. Even when the Students did pull off a dangerous move it backfired, the Saints bagging a third off a quick break following a corner given up in defence of Dean Clarke’s fierce shot on 71 minutes.
The corner was cleared to Anto Flood who scooped a high ball forwards, but the headed half clearance fell only to Chris Forrester who jabbed the ball through the defensive line and then chipped it delicately over Conor O’Donnell and into the UCD goal.
Flood might have added a fourth when he was expertly picked out at the far post by Greg Bolger’s looping pass but the striker’s effort drifted over the bar and onto the roof of the net. Fellow substitute Jake Kelly provided an altogether more emphatic finish seven minutes from time when he broke through on the left and drilled a low shot past O’Donnell from twelve yards.
James Kavanagh drove a well hit free narrowly wide of the Pats goal with five minutes to play but the home side were not yet done. Chris Forrester played Flood into space on 87 minutes only for the striker to push the ball on into the path of Jake Kelly who had the time and space to clip a delicate shot over O’Donnell for number five.
St Patrick’s Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Ger O’Brien, Conor Kenna, Kenny Browne, Ian Bermingham; Conan Byrne (Jake Kelly 72), John Russell (Sean Gannon 77), Greg Bolger, Killian Brennan, Chris Forrester; Christy Fagan (Anto Flood 68).
Subs not used: Dave Ryan, Jake Carroll, Aidan price, Stephen Maher.
UCD: Conor O’Donnell; Gareth Matthews, James Kavanagh, David O’Connor, Mark Langtry (Tyrone McNelis 74); Dean Clarke, Craig Walsh (Tomas Boyle 58), Robbie Benson, Barry McCabe, Gary Burke; David McMillan (Dinny Corcoran 65).
Subs not used: Mark McGinley, Hugh Douglas, Colm Crowe, Cillian Morrison.
Referee: Paul Tuite
Extratime Man of the Match: Chris Forrester (St Patrick’s Ath)