St Patrick’s Athletic proved too strong strong for University College Dublin AFC as the title
contenders beat the College 2-0 on Monday night.
Richmond Park is never an easy place to pick up your first three points of the season.
St. Patrick’s Athletic’s excellent home record, coupled with the noise generated from their
fans, makes Inchicore an unsettling venue for any opposition.
Nevertheless, Andy Myler’s men looked very composed in the opening half hour, reducing
Pats to long range efforts, and looking a threat on the counter. Liam Kerrigan, the Republic
of Ireland under 21 international, had the beating of Saints’ captain Ian Bermingham down
the right flank, drawing several fouls in the opening quarter. Colm Whelan, the students’ top
scorer last season, also looked dangerous up front, albeit with very little service.
Dylan Duffy provided a penetrating forward ball down the left for UCD, finishing off one
surging run with a low cross into the six yard box. An unfortunate bounce, and some good
positioning from St. Pats’ goalkeeper Joseph Anang, denied Whelan a goal that would have
come against the run of play.
After a positive opening 30 minutes for UCD, Pats broke the deadlock. Having found joy out
wide through a combination of Mark Doyle, Billy King and, the exciting young talent, Darragh
Burns, it was the latter who created the opportunity. Burns beat the UCD left back, John
Ryan, with a good turn of pace before sending a rocket across the face of the UCD goal with
his weaker right foot. An unmarked Eoin Doyle, whose overall movement and positional
nous was exceptional on the night, headed into an empty net from a yard out in the 34th
Doyle could have had a second on the stroke of half time, Burns again the provider. This
time he went for a glancing header, emphasising the pace of Burns’ cross, his attempt
however was brilliantly cleared off the line by UCD captain Jack Keaney.
After a slow burning start to the second half, Pats doubled their lead just before the hour
mark. Sean Brennan was dispossessed by Mark Doyle in the middle of the park, who fed
Chris Forrester. Forrester quickly shifted the point of attack out left to Billy King. King’s cross
was cleared outside the area, only for Mark Doyle to take it, again, on his chest and then
send a low volley into the bottom corner, past Lorcan Healy in the UCD goal. Simply sublime
from about 25 yards out.
That goal brought about an attacking change from Myler. On came sub striker Gaffney,
Keaney sacrificed. It wasn’t Keaney’s night, although it must be said that his opposite
number, Chris Forrester, was different class: pirouetting outside his own box and playing the
game as if he was in his own back garden.
In spite of Forrester’s excellent display, losing that extra man in midfield was costly for the
students. A vocal Tim Clancy dropped striker Eoin Doyle deeper, to augment the saints
midfield, allowing Doyle, Forrester and King to toy with what remained of the UCD engine
room; the Pats playmakers looking reminiscent of prime Barcelona.
UCD’s only real chance of the half came late on, manufactured by their two best attacking
assets, Kerrigan and Whelan. Kerrigan picked up the scraps of a failed St. Pats attack, in a
more central position. He began a dominating drive forward from half-way, skiving past the
challenge of Adam o Reilly, finding Whelan. While Whelan couldn’t penetrate through the
resolute St. Pats defence, he did end up trying a speculative 30-yard curler that almost
nestled into the top right corner. At that stage though, the students were living off the odd
misplaced pass from Pats and counter-attacks that never really materialised.
Pats saw-out the game well, and took the liberty of bringing on second and third choice
strikers, Ronan Coughlan and Tunde Olowabi, for Eoin Doyle and Billy King respectively.
The standing ovation that both players received from the Pats faithful said everything about
their individual attacking performances. As King made way, a rendition of “When the saints
go marching in ” echoed around Richmond Park. It was a telling sign that the game was up.
It could have been 3-0 after a scintillating Chris Forrester through ball found substitute
Coughlan who rounded the keeper. Unfortunately for Coughlan his second touch was poor,
subsequently taking him off balance as he attempted to get his name on the score sheet.
A valiant effort from the students who fought hard against a side who will be hoping to
challenge for the title this season. Indeed as I was leaving the stadium, there seemed to be
an added sense of excitement and expectation around the place. As for Myler’s side, their
search for a first win this season continues. Next up is Bohemian FC at the Bowl.
St Patrick’s Athletic: Joseph Anang; Ian Bermingham (c) (Anto Breslin 36), Tom Grivosti, Joe
Redmond, Jack Scott; Darragh Burns (Jason McClelland 84), Chris Forrester, Billy King
(Tunde Owolabi 65), Adam O’Reilly; Eoin Doyle (Rónán Coughlan 84), Mark Doyle.
UCD: Lorcan Healy; Eric Yoro, Sam Todd, John Ryan (Alex Dunne 74), Evan Osam; Adam
Verdon, Liam Kerrigan (Lennon Gill 84), Jack Keaney (Evan Caffrey 62), Dylan Duffy (Daniel
Norris 84), Sean Brennan (Donal Higgins 74); Colm Whelan.
Stephen Black – Sports Writer