St. Pat's strolled to a comprehensive 6-0 win over Drogheda United at Richmond Park on Monday night as Conan Byrne bagged a hat-trick to condemn the visitors to their ninth defeat in their last ten league games.
Pats didn’t have to wait long to take the lead and after just six uneventful minutes Keith Fahey got the show on the road by picking out Ian Bermingham with a sublime diagonal ball that opened up the Drogheda defence. The full back cut inside and fed Chris Forrester who belted past Dave Ryan from just inside the box.
Drogheda’s response was to continue with a patient, passing game that never quite came off and Pats proceeded to pick them off. The home side executed a far superior possession game throughout and on 16 minutes they struck again.
Conan Byrne’s low cross somehow missed both Christy Fagan and Killian Brennan but Bermingham collected the ball at the far side and sent it back in for Fagan to flick past Ryan from close range for his 13th goal of the season.
Long passages of play followed when Pats were content to knock the ball about among themselves, rarely risking a drive towards goal, but as the half time break approach the pressure from the home side increased.
On 41 minutes a cross from the right by Conan Byrne drifted past the in-rushing figure of Fagan and straight into the Drogheda net. The stadium announcer initially credited Fagan with the goal but, gentleman that he is, he shook his head and pointed towards Byrne.
Drogheda’s task in the second half was damage limitation but within three minutes of the restart Pats had bagged a fourth. Pats, no doubt smelling blood in the water, pressed forward from the whistle and were rewarded when Fagan played in Forrester who applied a cool finish from 15 yards.
A double substitution by Robbie Horgan wasn’t enough to stem the tide although Eric Foley did impress having come on for Cathal Brady, despite the fact that his team saw precious little of the ball.
Conan Byrne added a fifth after 66 minutes when sub Mark Quigley played a wonderful ball through the Drogheda rearguard and Pats finished the job four minutes from time when Byrne completed his hat-trick, courtesy of a magnificent 40 yard pass from Fahey that was then delivered to the goal-scorer by Ian Bermingham.
In truth, this was a mis-match, with St. Pat’s managing to exert almost constant pressure without ever looking like they were breaking sweat. Pats march on while Robbie Horgan continues what has become a desperate search for answers.
St Patrick’s Ath: Brendan Clark (Rene Gilmartin 46); Conor McCormack, Sean Hoare, Kenny Browne, Ian Bermingham; Conan Byrne, James Chambers, Keith Fahey, Killian Brennan, Chris Forrester (Daryl Kavanagh 71); Christy Fagan (Mark Quigley 62).
Subs not used: Rene Gilmartin, Lorcan Fitzgerald, Ken Oman, Lee Lynch, Sam Verdon.
Booked: Fahey (47).
Drogheda United: Dave Ryan; Gavin Holohan, Daire Doyle, Paul Andrews, Gavin Brennan; Carl Walshe, Mick Daly, Paul Crowley, Sean O’Connor, Cathal Brady (Eric Foley 56); Gary O’Neill (Philly Hughes 56).
Subs not used: Roy Kierans, Dylan Connolly, Alan McNally, Dominic Mahon, Declan O’Brien.
Booked: Andrews (88).
Referee: David McKeon
Extratime Man of the Match: Conan Byrne (St Patrick’s Ath).