Derry bring it back home again
Derry City 3 St Patrick’s Athletic 2(after extra-time, 2-2 after 90 minutes): Nothing worse than a Cup final being decided by individual error. A double brain freeze by St Patrick’s Athletic goalkeeper Brendan Clarke in the 68th minute may not be the only reason for Derry City capturing their fifth FAI Cup title but it will be remembered long after the rest of this game is forgotten.
Then again, so will the two goals Derry striker Rory Patterson scored when coming off the bench.
To the Clarke gaffe first. St Pat’s captain Conor Kenna made a routine back pass but his goalkeeper attempted to send it in the same direction and thereby take Stephen McLaughlin out of the equation. McLaughlin read Clarke’s body language and got a touch to the ball. In the subsequent scramble for possession Clarke blatantly bundled McLaughlin to the ground. Up stepped Patterson, only on the field nine minutes, to calmly roll home the penalty.
That made it 2-1.
Considering there was some debate about which St Pat’s goalkeeper should start makes it even more depressing for the club’s loyal support in the 16,117 crowd. Barry Murphy had been first choice for the latter part of the season but a recent injury re-opened the door for Clarke.
With just four minutes remaining St Pat’s did manage to cancel out the penalty when Ger O’Brien’s decent cross was sent goal bound by a Derry head, which Ger Doherty could only parry into Sean O’Connor's path. His low ball across the goal mouth was tapped in by Christy Fagan.
Cue extra-time for the third successive year.
The major flashpoint of a tetchy first-half saw St Pat’s midfielder Jake Carroll forced off soon after a collision with Dermot McCaffrey. Carroll took a boot to the knee but was yellow carded by referee Neil Doyle, presumably, for showing studs.
Derry finished the half stronger, as the weather conditions badly deteriorated, profiting from sloppy St Pat’s passing to create two sights of goal but David McDaid’s overhead kick and Kevin Deery’s shot both missed the target.
Just as Doyle whistled for the break the heavens opened so an already bumpy looking pitch cut up badly. The presumption was that already dour affair would descend into total stalemate.
The opposite happened.
St Pat’s winger Sean O’Connor drew blood first with a sumptuous free kick, curled into the top corner after McCaffrey’s impetuous tackle on Forrester.
Derry instantly replied through big centre back Stewart Greacen’s powerful point blank header from a Barry McNamee delivery.
Derry then took the lead via Patterson’s penalty and really should have killed off the contest on 75 minutes but McDaid and McNamee both spurned chances. Granted, McNamee’s shot was heroically blocked by Kenna.
They paid for it when Fagan ensured another 30 minutes.
The winner came from another dose of good fortune for the attacking team. Ruaidhri Higgins flicked on Ger Doherty kick out but Kenna was wrong footed by it glancing off Kenny Browne, allowing Patterson to sneak around the back and glide past Clarke before a simple finish.
Derry City:Doherty; Madde, Greacen (McBride 97 mins), S McEleney, McCaffrey; P McEleney (Patterson 58 mins), Deery (capt), Molloy, McLaughlin, McNamee (Higgins 80 mins), McDaid.
St Patrick’s Athletic:Clarke; O’Brien (Flynn 105 mins), Kenna (capt), Browne, Bermingham; Chambers, Carroll (Russell 23 mins), Forrester, Kelly (Faherty half-time), O’Connor; Fagan.