Ten man Derry City walked away from Richmond Park with all three points in a very one-sided League Of Ireland Premier Division encounter against a disappointing St Patrick’s Athletic team winning 3-0 thanks to first-half goals from Thomas Stewart, Gareth McGlynn and Ciaran Martyn.
It was the least the away side deserved thanks to a well organised defence, an energetic and at times electric midfield and what has to be one of the best attacking partnerships in the country. Jeff Kenna’s team simply had no answer to the first-half onslaught and even when Derry had midfielder Steven Gray sent-off for two yellow cards in the second half Pat’s still couldn’t breach the away side’s resolute back line.
A bright start from the away side saw them deservedly take the lead on nine thanks to the awareness of Sammy Morrow and the lively finishing of Stewart, even if the connection wasn’t as assured as the rest of the build up play.
Pat’s, after an extremely sluggish opening, fought their way back in to the game, attempting to utilise the presence of Glen Fitzpatrick and the movement of Mark Quigley although the best they could muster was a goal mouth scramble which a dogged Derry defence eventually cleared on 24.
Pat’s brief reprieve was soon brought to an abrupt halt when on 32 more fine centre-forward play from Morrow saw him feed the ball wide to Barry Molloy on the right, who in turn played the ball to Gareth McGlynn on the edge of Pat’s penalty area. If Stewart’s finish wasn’t the most clinical, McGlynn’s was the epitome of precision, measuring a curling, low, right foot effort inside Gary Roger’s left hand post from 20 yards.
At this point the home side were reeling and their opponents were rampant and when Ger O'Brien sized up full-back David Partridge and passed him like he wasn’t there, his brilliant right foot this time sent an excellent cross in to the Pat’s area and arriving just on time was Ciaran Martyn to pummel a header past the hapless Rogers on 37.
Derry took their three goal advantage into the half-time break, in truth it could have been more. The second period passed without much in the way of incident other than a Gray moment of brilliance followed by a moment of utter madness from the same player, After expertly exploiting space down Pat’s right hand side his pinpoint cross was steered marginally wide of the Pat’s goal by Morrow. Then, bizarrely, moments later Gray saw red for a needless second yellow card on 70.
Substitute Alan Cawley passed and probed following his half-time introduction for The Saints but when he played in the busy Stuart Byrne, Derry keeper Gerard Doherty was quick to smother the danger. A jubilant but coy Stephen Kenny was quick to praise his players commenting: “We’re getting better, even though we’ve lost a couple of players some of our other players are maturing.” However he was just as quick to play down his side’s title aspirations insisting Bohemians are the outstanding title favourites. “They bloody won the double last year at a canter.”
A clearly devastated and despondent Kenna was typically blunt after the game when asked whether or not his team are still realistic title challengers: “after that absolutely not, after tonight’s performance we will be lucky if we stay up”
Alan Cawley’s surprise omission from the starting line up was something Kenna admitted was an error of judgement on his part and the midfielder’s second half introduction began to alter the flow of the game: “That was my mistake, I left Alan out because I though they were gonna be not so much football tonight.”
For Derry, captain Peter Hutton was taken to hospital with a lacerated groin and was replaced by Clive Delaney, His return date is, as yet, unknown.
On tonight’s evidence only one of these sides will be battling it out for League of Ireland supremacy come the end of the season and it is Kenny’s impressive attacking outfit. Kenna, on the other hand, who performed miracles in keeping Galway in the division last season, will need to do something similar if his current crop of players are to achieve anything this year.
St Patrick's Athletic: Gary Rogers; Damien Lynch, Jason Gavin, Jamie Harris, Dave Partridge; Kyle Moran (Andy Haran 59), Stuart Byrne, John Lester, Darragh Ryan (Alan Cawley 46); Glen Fitzpatrick, Mark Quigley.
Subs not used: Brendan Clarke, Noel Haverty, Enda Stevens.
Derry City: Ger Doherty; Ger O'Brien, Peter Hutton (Clive Delaney 46), Mark McChrystal, Steven Gray; Gareth McGlynn, Barry Molloy, Ciaran Martyn, Liam Kearney; Sammy Morrow (James McClean 75), Thomas Stewart (Mark Farren 84).
Subs not used: Pat Jennings (gk), Ruaidhri Higgins.
Referee: Anthony Buttimer.
Extratime Man of the Match: Sammy Morrow (Derry City) - It was very difficult to pick just one player based on this fantastic team performance but Sammy Morrow was the focal point of virtually every attack from The Candystripes and at times looked unplayable.