League of Ireland champions Saint Patrick’s Athletic progressed past Ballinamallard United with ease on Monday evening in their quest to add an all-island crown to their SSE Airtricity League title.
Their 5-0 win in Richmond Park gave them a 6-0 aggregate victory and booked the Saints their third ever semi-final appearance in the Setanta Sports Cup. They will face Sligo Rovers in that tie.
Alvin Rouse, the Mallard ‘keeper, was kept busy throughout the game. He was caught flapping at a number of crosses flighted into the visitors box during the game and the ball flew past him with regularity, with Pat’s finding the back of the net, it seemed, whenever it suited. And yet Rouse’s team started the stronger in this second leg but couldn’t make their early pressure count.
With just three minutes on the clock, David Kee went on a surging run that
required Pat’s goalkeeper Rene Gilmartin to come off his line quickly. Ballinamallard United followed that up five minutes later when a cross by Ryan Campbell came to Stuart Hutchinson. He had the goal at his mercy but hit nothing but fresh air in what was a real let off for the home team.
The visitors then hit the post but with the flag up, Liam Martin's header from a floated free kick from Kee wouldn't have counted even if it had it gone in. Rouse’s first involvement had the Pat's crowd shouting for a goal as the ‘keeper made a mess of a Ger O'Brien shot. It hit the Barbados international on the chest after bouncing in front of him and almost spun into the United goal. He had to acrobatically dive behind him to punch the ball away as it seemed destined to travel over the line.
Pat’s attacking options of Daryl Kavanagh, Conan Byrne and Mark Quigley gave The Saints the cutting edge on the night. St. Pat’s first goal came after Hutchinson fouled Lee Lynch at the edge of The Mallard’s box. He picked up a yellow card and then Rouse was picking the ball out of the back of the net as Quigley’s free kick low to the left got by the wall to give his team a second leg advantage.
They another goal after the half an hour mark. Moments before, Rouse had saved a one-on-one from Kavanagh after Quigley had played him in. Then the Pat’s full back Ian Bermingham knocked the ball by Mark Stafford and collected it on the other side of him. While his shot was saved by the goalkeeper, it squirted free for Byrne to tap over the line from a yard out.
With 39 minutes on the clock, Byrne grabbed his second as he got on the end of a beautiful scooped pass from Quigley over the Mallard defence to make it 3-0 at the break.
United showed some battle in the early second half exchanges as a couple of one-twos on the edge of the Pat’s box caused the home side some difficulty. Liam Martin collected Richard Lecky’s return pass but his shot was deflected for a corner before another corner was won after a good move involving John Currie and substitute Dwayne McManus.
The tenth placed team in the Danske Bank Premiership were no match for the League of Ireland Champions though. Even making six changes from the team that drew 1-1 with Cork City last Frdiay, Liam Buckley had quality in the starting line up and on the bench, which he needed to use early in the second half when Conor McCormack and Lee Lynch could no longer continue.
The Pat’s manager was able to bring on Chris Forrester five minutes into the second half after McCormack couldn’t recover from a knock he picked up from Liam Martin’s yellow card tackle just prior to the break. It was Forrester who fed the ball to Quigley to make it 4-0 on 62 minutes.
Stafford’s header five minutes later from a Kee cross was as close as the Irish League side came to getting on the scoresheet in the second half. The scoring was completed by another fine St. Pat’s goal three minutes from time. Marco Chindea’s cross was coolly dummied by Quigley to allow the ball into the path of Kavanagh and he slotted home to make it 5-0 on the night.
The reward for the Richmond Park side is to face Sligo Rovers in the all League of Ireland team semi-final of the Setanta Sports Cup.
St Patrick’s Athletic: Rene Gilmartin; Ger O’Brien (c), Derek Foran, Ken Oman, Ian Bermingham; Daryl Kavanagh, Conor McCormack (Chris Forrester 50), Lee Lynch (Greg Bolger 53), James Chambers, Conan Byrne (Marco Chindea 79); Mark Quigley.
Subs not used: Pat Jennings, Kenny Browne, Peter Durrad.
Ballinamallard Utd: Alvin Rouse; Nigel Beacon, Mark Stafford (c), Craig Hill, Jason McCartney; Ryan Campbell, David Kee, Stuart Hutchinson (Dwayne McManus 46), John Currie, Liam Martin (Andy Crawford 66); Richard Lecky (Christopher Crilly 78).
Subs Not Used: Conor McMenamin, Steve Feeney, Cathal Beacom.
Booked: Stuart Hutchinson (12), Liam Martin (43).
Referee: Robert Rogers.
Extratime.ie man of the match: Conan Byrne (St Patrick’s Ath).