Saint Patrick’s Athletic cruised to a 6-1 victory over a poor Galway United side on Saturday night to stay within six points of the top of the Airtricity League.
First half goals from Seán O’Connor (2), Stephen Bradley and Danny North, coupled with second half strikes from North again and Paul Crowley ensured the Inchicore side’s goal difference caught up with the three teams ahead of them in the league standings.
With Danny North back in the side following a three game absence, the Saints were able to play their first choice front pairing of North and Daryl Kavanagh, and within minutes the pair showed why they are one of the league’s most dangerous strike partnerships.
With just two minutes on the clock, North fed Kavanagh who played in Seán O’Connor, and from inside the penalty area and in yards of space, he was able to take his time and calmly slot the ball past Conor Winn in the Galway goal.
Pats nearly extended their lead on nine minutes. O'Connor initially picked out the forward run of left full-back Ian Bermingham, but after getting to the by-line the defender’s cross was cut out by Eric Brown, with Danny North waiting to pounce and score.
Pats made no mistake on 14 minutes though, as referee Graham Kelly awarded a penalty for an apparent handball by Galway defender Yob Son. Stephen Bradley made no mistake from the spot, sending Winn the wrong way and putting the ball into the top corner as Pats began to look comfortable.
Pats continued to play with ease and under no great pressure, allowing Bermingham to continue to push forward from defence. On 19 minutes the full-back was released by Seán O’Connor, but his cross was excellently cleared by Shane Walsh who denied Derek Doyle a tap in from inside the six yard box.
Danny North was the next player to come close for the Saints, the Grimsby born forward guilty of missing a clear shot on goal after being put through by Daryl Kavanagh, though Conor Winn was to be praised for coming off his line and making a save.
But the Saints’ top-scorer was not to be denied less than 60 seconds later as, from the resulting corner, the ball was cleared to North on the edge of the penalty area, and his right footed shot arrowed straight into the top of Winn’s right hand corner.
North missed another chance to add to his personal tally just minutes later as he shot wide of the goal from a narrow angle, but Pats made it four on 41 minutes. Bradley’s ball over the top found Kavanagh and he waltzed past Yob Son on the endline to square for O’Connor to get his second of the game.
With the points in the bag at half-time, Pete Mahon gave Daryl Kavanagh and Derek Doyle early rests as he brought in Dave McMillan and Seán Stewart. However the changes seemed to stop the fluidity of the Saints’ passing and movement and the second half was therefore less successful for the home side.
The Saints however still managed to add to their tally, Seán O'Connor releasing Danny North in acres of space on the right who was then able to easily cut in from the angle of the box and see his shot go in off the post.
It was six for the Inchicore side just four minutes later, substitute Paul Crowley getting in on the act as he gathered the loose ball from a mazy Seán O’Connor run to fire past Conor Winn from inside the box.
There was, however, one bright moment for the small contingent of travelling support as they saw the Tribesmen pull a consolation goal back just 60 seconds later. With no forward options on, Galway full-back Paul Sinnott’s shot from 30 yards seemed to heading straight at Gary Rogers, but the keeper failed to deal with the shot and saw the ball slip through his fingertips and roll into his far corner.
It was the only blemish on the Saints’ performance who still eased to victory and consigned Galway to their 22nd consecutive league defeat. The Saints meanwhile remain six points from the top of the Airtricity League, and now go into their next league clash against Shamrock Rovers next week.
St Patrick’s Athletic: Gary Rogers; Derek Pender, Evan McMillan, Conor Kenna (c), Ian Bermingham; Seán O’Connor, Stephen Bradley (Paul Crowley 78), Shane McFaul, Derek Doyle (Seán Stewart 45); Daryl Kavanagh (Dave McMillan 45), Danny North.
Subs Not Used: Chris Bennion, Brian Shortall, Anto Murphy, Dave Mulcahy.
Bookings: Stewart (67).
Galway United: Conor Winn; Paul Sinnott, Yob Son, Eric Brown, Eric Holland; Jin Gu Kim (Oscar Sibanda 56), Bobby Ryan, Gary Kelly, Alan Murphy (c), Stephen Walsh; Ronan Cauldwell (Eduardo Dusi 65).
Subs Not Used: John Egan.
Referee: Graham Kelly.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Seán O’Connor.