Derry City draw can’t spoil St Patrick’s Athletic’s title party
Anto Flood equalises for champions on a special night
St Patrick’s Athletic captain Conor Kenna lifts the Airtricity League Premier Division trophy alongside his team-mates at Richmond Park. Photograph: Sportsfile
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC 1 DERRY CITY 1: It was party-time at Richmond Park last night as newly-crowned Airtricity League Premier Division champions St Patrick’s Athletic were presented with the league trophy after a 1-1 draw with Derry City.
Apart from topping the table, Pat’s remarkable season has also seen them so far win more matches than any other side, lose the fewest number of games, score the most goals and conceded the least. It’s a remarkable turnaround for a club that as recently as two season ago could have gone out of business following a mid-season row with players over bonuses for European games.
Guard of honour
Derry City came into the game with aspirations of finishing fourth in the table and securing European football for next summer – though that scenario will only happen if the already European-bound Sligo Rovers beat Drogheda United in next month’s FAI Cup final.
The Derry players formed a guard of honour with the match officials as Pat’s ran on to the pitch but that was the extent of their goodwill to the home side. An intense start by the visitors saw Pat’s goalkeeper Brendan Clarke forced into a fifth-minute save from a Michael Rafter shot before Patrick McEleney smashes a looping effort off the crossbar two minutes later.
Pat’s boss Liam Buckley made six changes to the side that secured the title with a 2-0 win over Sligo Rovers last Sunday and the fresh-looking side found themselves behind on 34 minutes.
Barry McNamee found himself in space on the left and having been played through by Ryan Curran smashed a low shot past Clarke at his near post.
Derry enjoyed the best of the chances for the rest of the half and continued to dominate into the second period. Indeed they could have gone further ahead on 56 minutes when awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position to the left of the Pat’s goal. Rory Patterson’s strike was strong but the ball flew over the bar.
Rafter then took advantage of slack Pat’s defending on 69 minutes to waltz his way into the six-yard box but having done the good work then hammered his shot over the bar before Anto Flood equalised for Pat’s with a terrific shot into the far corner of Ger Doherty’s net from 20 yards on 81 minutes.
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Clarke; O’Brien, Price, Kenna, Bermingham; Gannon (Russell h/t), Forrester (Byrne h/t), McFaul, Brennan, Kelly; Fagan (Flood 64 mins).
DERRY CITY: Doherty; Madden, McBride, Molloy, Jarvis; Patterson (Foy 83 mins), P McEleney, McDaid, B McNamee, Curran; Rafter (Griffin 70 mins).
Referee: P Sutton (Clare).