St. Patrick's Athletic booked their passage to the quarter-finals of the EA Sports Cup with a 4-1 victory over Crumlin United at Richmond Park.
A brace from Sam Verdon, a strike from second half substitute James Chambers and a Ross Carrig own goal gave the Saints what will ultimately be viewed as a comfortable victory, but after dominating the first-half Pat's had to endure a Crumlin fightback as Patrick Cannon levelled the score at 1-1 in the 55th minute.
Ultimately, it wasn't enough for Martin Loughran's Leinster Senior League side who at least have the consolation of an FAI Intermediate Cup final against Tolka Rovers to look forward to following their 6-0 victory over Firhouse Clover in the semi-final on Good Friday.
Though the game took place in Richmond Park, it was a home tie for Crumlin United – and it was the 'home' side who had the game's first chance after only two minutes.
Crumlin winger Alan McGreal – fresh from scoring a hat-trick against Firhouse - almost capitalised on a defensive mix-up in the Pat's rearguard to dink Saints goalkeeper Conor O'Malley, but Sean Hoare got back to clear off the line.
After the initial early scare, Pat's settled down and started knitting some nice passing moves together. Yet it was the languid running of Morgan Langley which almost fashioned the game's opening goal when he burst through from midfield, but a heavy touch allowed Crumlin 'keeper Dave Meehan to smother.
However, the Saints were not to be denied as they took the lead in the 14th minute. A Ger O'Brien cross was mis-controlled by Cyril Guedjé and Jamie McGrath reacted quickest to lay the loose ball off for Sam Verdon to fire home from just outside the box.
Guedjé was inadvertently involved again four minutes later after some skillful play from Langley teed up O'Brien for another cross. The Togo international rose highest but accidentally diverted it away from goal and it fell to McGrath who could only fire over.
Pat's dominated the first-half and Crumlin skipper James Lee picked up the game's first booking on the half-hour mark for a foul on Jamie McGrath which was borne of frustration more than anything else.
Crumlin did break forward whenever possible, though. O'Malley needed to be alert to make two routine saves in succession from long distance efforts by Thomas Hyland and Ger Rowe – the latter's effort deflected off of Hoare but the Pat's 'keeper gathered comfortably.
A Crumlin flurry in the Pat's half just before the interval had the potential to yield an equaliser, with James Lee almost capitalising on a weak Desmond clearance – but his effort lacked the power to trouble O'Malley.
However, after creating the first chances of the second half, Crumlin did find a way back into the game in the 55th minute and it was Cannon who supplied the finish. McGreal slipped the ball in behind O'Brien and Cannon checked his run inside and slotted home first-time into the far post.
Pat's immediately sought to reassert their dominance, with Bermingham drawing a foul from Rowe on the edge of the area. Substitute James Chambers could only fire the resulting free-kick into the wall and Hoare's follow up effort was easily saved by Meehan.
However, another mistake in the Saints defence almost gifted Crumlin the lead. A Hoare slip presented Lee with possession. His ball through found Chris Straessle and he almost turned both Desmond and O'Malley, but the 'keeper recovered to smoother.
In the 66th minute, Crumlin sub Greg Moorehouse saw his shot gathered by the former Shamrock Rovers B stopper at the second attempt – and Pat's went up the other end to take the lead 60 seconds later. Jack Bayly's cross was diverted into the Crumlin net by centre-back Ross Carrig for an own goal to give the Saints a 2-1 lead.
Three minutes later, it was 3-1. James Chambers was given too much time to carry the goal goalward by the Crumlin backline and his 25 yard effort went through the arms of Meehan and rattled the top left corner of the net.
Crumlin tried to get back into the game, with a Straessle cross causing problems in the Pat's box, but the game was put to bed in the 74th minute when Verdon scored his second of the night. Similar to Chambers' strike, Verdon was allowed too much time to line up his long range effort which gave Meehan no chance.
Late sub Ciarán Kilduff wasted two late opportunities to add a fifth, while Rowe fired a late free-kick over the bar, but it didn't matter – the Saints' go marching to the quarter-finals in search of their first EA Sports Cup win in 12 years.
Crumlin United: Dave Meehan; Ciaran Reilly, Thomas Hyland, Ross Carrig, Ciaran Nangle; Chris Straessle (Daniel McGuinness, 89) John Sullivan (Greg Moorehouse, 62), James Lee, Alan McGreal; Patrick Cannon (Daniel Loughran, 79), Ger Rowe.
Subs not used: Michael Quinn (gk), Martin Cramer, Barry Slattery, Leon Johnson.
Bookings: Lee (30), Rowe (59), Reilly (78), Loughran (80).
St. Patrick's Athletic: Conor O'Malley; Ger O'Brien (James Chambers, 56), Lee Desmond, Sean Hoare, Ian Bermingham; Jack Bayly (Christopher Forrester, 68), Conor McCormack, Sam Verdon; Morgan Langley, Cyril Guedjé (Ciaran Kilduff, 76), Jamie McGrath.
Subs not used: Patrick Jennings (gk), Paul Rooney, Darragh Markey, Conan Byrne.
Bookings: Langley (82), Chambers (89).
Referee: Robert Rogers.
Extratime Man of the Match: Sam Verdon (St. Patrick's Athletic).