Sligo Rovers closed out their season with a 4-1 home defeat against former league champions St. Patrick’s Athletic on Friday night.
The away fans made their voices heard as the game kicked off and it was St Pat’s that got off to a strong start with Byrne and Chris Forrester getting shots off on Richard Brush’s goal in the first minute but both shots curled wide.
Rovers had their first chance after five minutes with Danny North crossing the ball into Eamon Zayed from the left - but the shot was too long for the Sligo striker and was easily cleared by the Saints defense.
There was danger for the Bit O’Red after seven minutes when Forrester put an excellent ball through the Sligo defense - looking for the bottom left corner - but Brush was alert and quickly smothered the ball.
Pats kept up the offensive with another shot coming from Byrne inside the six yard box two minutes later - after a well placed cross from the left - but the shot had too much power on it and went wide.
Rovers fought back when captain David Cawley found Ruairi Keating in the box but Brendan Clarke watched it all the way and stopped Sligo’s chance on that occasion.
The ball changed sides frequently over the next few minutes but the next real opportunities fell to the Saints again as Christy Fagan rifled a shot off at close range with Birmingham picking up the rebound - but Brush kept alert and was able to keep a clean sheet for the Bit O’Red.
The deadlock was finally broken by the visitors after 32 minutes when Bermingham made a great run down the left wing and crossed the ball into Byrne who gained his composure and slotted the ball into the bottom left hand corner of the Rovers net.
Rovers tried to get on the score sheet before the end of the half but poor crosses by Cawley and North ended their scoring chances and kept the visitors in front as half time arrived.
The Saints got a goal three minutes into the second half when Ledwith cleared the ball but it ricocheted off Brush and ended up in the back of the net to the delight of the away crowd.
Rovers weren’t about to roll over however as Gary Armstrong struck a well placed volley at the edge of the box that ended up in the back of the St Pat’s net at the 51st minute mark and gave the home fans something to cheer about.
Fagan tried to increase the gap for his side three minutes later but his shot found the right post rather than his intended target – the back of Brush’s net.
The game became very subdued after that as play became very relaxed and took on the general feel of a close of season game.
This changed briefly in the 75th minute when Christy Fagan found his mark in the back of the home side’s net - after a superb passage of play with Byrne - but the game soon slipped back into its relaxed state again.
St Pats however managed to sign off with a bang in the 92nd minute when Byrne ended his season by burying a fourth goal into the back of the home side’s net and bring their season to an exciting close.
So Rovers end their season in 5th position while the Saints end their campaign in third – the SSE Airtricity League will resume again in March and extratime.ie will be there to cover all the action when it returns.
Sligo Rovers: Richard Brush; Paul O’Conor, Evan McMillan, Kalen Spillane, Danny Ledwith; Gary Armstrong (Ryan McManus, 85), Seamus Conneely, David Cawley, Ruairi Keating (Gary Boylan, 61); Eamon Zayed (Regan Donelon, 80), Danny North.
Subs not used: Gary Rogers (gk); Ross Taheny.
Bookings: Kalen Spillane (59)
St Patrick’s Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Ger O’Brien, Sean Hoare, Kenny Browne; Ian Bermingham; Killian Brennan, Greg Bolger, Conan Byrne, Keith Fahey (Conor McCormack, 65), Chris Forrester (Lorcan Fitzgearld, 65); Christy Fagan.
Subs not used: Pat Jennings (gk); Derek Foran, Ken Oman; James Chambers; Peter Durrad.
Referee: Ben Connolly.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Conan Byrne (St Patrick’s Athletic).