Bolger keeps St Patrick's in title hunt
St Pats 1 Shelbourne 0:GREG BOLGER’S first-half goal kept St Patrick’s very much in title contention as they outplayed Shelbourne at Richmond Park to remain four points behind leaders Sligo Rovers.
With President Michael D Higgins in attendance, St Patrick’s put on a show from the off and were ahead on nine minutes. Shelbourne goalkeeper Dean Delany was caught flat-footed as midfielder Bolger’s tame-looking header from Ger O’Brien’s delivery from the right looped over him and into the net.
With Shelbourne a bag of nerves at the back, Christy Fagan might have made it 2-0 on 14 minutes. Played in by Bolger, the striker shot directly at Delany who saved well with his legs.
The impressive Bolger ought then to have done better on 24 minutes as he sidefooted over the top from Darren Meenan’s cross as Shelbourne continued to struggle to get in to the game. Alan Mathews’ disjointed side didn’t register an effort on goal until 27 minutes when skipper David Cassidy’s free-kick was deflected off the wall for a corner.
But in a very one-sided first half, the action resume at the other end with Bogler blazing over the top. Dean Kelly then turned brilliantly past Paul Byrne only to shoot just wide on the blow of the break.
Fagan wasted another St Patrick’s opening five minutes into the second half. Kelly again skinned a defender to get to the end line and cross but Fagan’s goal-bound shot struck Stephen Paisley and rebounded to safety.
But the onslaught on the Shelbourne goal continues two minutes later when Gareth Matthews did well to get in the way of Kelly’s drive from the edge of the area.
Shelbourne finally got a shot on target on 56 minutes when Paddy Kavanagh’s effort had the sting taken out of it from a deflection as Brendan Clarke easily gathered.
Shelbourne then came within inches of levelling on 58 minutes when Philly Hughes’ header crashed back off the crossbar. Half-time substitute Stephen Hurley then saw Clarke off his line and tried an audacious chip from the halfway line that wasn’t far wide.
But St Patrick’s upped their tempo and finished the stronger. Meenan showed great skill to flick the ball over Paisley only to be thwarted by the feet of Delany.
Shelbourne played out the last six minutes with 10 men when left-back Barry Clancy was sent off for a rash challenge on O’Brien.
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Clarke; O’Brien, Kenna, Browne, Bermingham; Bolger, Chambers, Forrester (Carroll, h/t); D. Kelly, Fagan, Meenan.
SHELBOURNE: Delany; Ryan (Matthews, 23 mins.), Shortall, Paisley, Clancy; C. Byrne (Gorman, 80 mins.), Cassidy, Dawson, Kavanagh; Hughes, P. Byrne (Hurley, h/t).
Referee: Anthony Buttimer (Cork).