Things could scarcely have gone worse for Jeff Kenna’s St. Patrick’s Athletic tonight as Galway United, the club he guided to safety just last season, thumped his new charges three nil at the Stadium of Light, Richmond Park. In a game that got the League of Ireland Premier Division off to a flying start. Few if any could have predicted such an emphatic result for the visitors.
In a particularly cruel twist of fate for the former Republic of Ireland international it was, in fact, Pat’s old boy Derek O’Brien who did the damage. The winger scored two and set up the other in a fine performance which may have led Pat’s fans to question why the player was not kept on. Galway fans were left rubbing their hands with glee at what could turn out to be a far more successful season than they could have dared to wish for.
United manager Ian Foster set his team out to contain in a 4 -5 -1 formation with O’Brien breaking forward when possible down the left and captain Jay O’Shea terrorising wide on the right, while the tireless Vinny Fahery foraged as a lone striker.
It was also the away side who made the brighter start to the dismay of the Inchicore faithful. To his immense credit, John Lester tried to muscle Pat’s back into the game but it was Galway who deservedly took the lead on 17 minutes . The dangerous O’Shea fizzed in a free kick from wide on the left hand side and O’Brien guided the ball home with a clever header, beating keeper Gary Rogers at his far post.
The trickery of O’Shea was proving too much to handle for Kenna’s charges at times and indeed the Galway outfit had chances to increase their lead before the break; something the Shed End inhabitants needed no encouragement in pointing out to their former boss. Cries of Judas and banners to the same effect were aimed in his direction throughout.
The English Premier League winner remained generally passive, unmoved and patient but led the protests on 38 minutes when he felt his side were denied a penalty for what looked like a handball inside the Galway box and the visitors went in at the break with a one goal lead.
Kenna’s hand was forced and he made a double substitution during the interval in an attempt to alter the game. The ineffective Glints Friemanis was replaced by fan favourite Ryan Guy and Kyle Moran came on in place of Andy Haran.
It was to be O’Brien’s night as he supplied the perfect pass across the face of Roger’s goal for Faherty to slide home. The player, whom his manager jokingly described afterwards as "a moody bugger", took centre stage again on 52 minutes and curled a wondrous third goal with his apparently weaker right foot from all of 20 yards.
Kenna paid Galway the respect their performance warranted, stating: "I don’t want to sit here and make excuses, Galway thoroughly deserved their win."
Local singer Jamie Sailors provided the half-time entertainment as he performed the Rat Pack classic, "Ain’t that a kick in the head". Surely a more apt song to sum up Kenna’s first game in charge could not be found. Cork City at Turner's Cross next Friday awaits, while Galway could entertain Dundalk next week as League leaders.
St Patrick's Athletic: Gary Rogers; Damian Lynch, Jason Gavin, John Lester, Noel Haverty; Bobby Ryan, Garreth O'Connor, Alan Cawley, Gints Friemanis (Ryan Guy 46); Mark Leech, Andy Haran (Kyle Moran 46).
Subs not used: Luke Bray, Enda Stevens, Anthony Costigan.
Galway United: Barry Ryan; Seamus Conneely, Garry Breen, Shane Guthrie, Iarfhlaith Davoren; Jay O'Shea, Cian McBrien (Alan Murphy, 81), Derek O'Brien (Paul Sinnott, 90), Sean Kelly, Michael McGrath; Vinny Faherty (Declan Edwards 70).
Subs not used: Ger Hanley, David Cooke.
Referee: Alan Kelly (Cork).
Extratime.ie Man of the match: Jay O’Shea (Galway United) - O’Brien was decisive but O’Shea is a player destined for great things, Skill in abundance and not afraid to use it or toil when the need arises. Magnificent display.