St Patrick's progress at their ease

 

Dundalk 0 St Patrick’s Athletic 3: WITH THEIR top-flight status still to play for, Dundalk will have cup finals of sorts to worry about. As for the real thing, well, St Patrick’s Athletic will concern themselves with that after comfortably beating the home side to earn another crack at winning a trophy that has eluded them since 1961.

Goals from Kenny Browne, Greg Bolger and Seán O’Connor gave the visitors a well-earned victory and while Darius Kierans argued afterwards “it wasn’t a 3-0 game”, it didn’t look likely to end in anything but an away win from the point Liam Buckley’s side got their noses in front just short of midway through the first half.

“It wasn’t the best of performances, I’ve seen us look a lot better this year,” said the St Pat’s manager, “but cup semi-finals are probably the worst games of the season to play in, there’s so much to be won and lost. But I’m delighted for the players. With a few games of the season to go, they’re still in the mix in both competitions.”

For Kierans, the display from various Dundalk players brought some consolation but the result was yet another disappointment in what has been a difficult season. He had no real complaints, though, given the visiting side’s domination at key periods and greater effectiveness around goal.

Dundalk took much the same approach as they had at Bohemians in the last round, using a diamond formation in midfield with John Mountney used in the forward role where a key part of the task was to prevent James Chambers directing things. He did it well enough at least until Chambers’ involvement was cut short by a hip injury that forced him off and Jake Carroll to take over the role with Greg Bolger arriving on to fill the gap alongside Chris Forrester in central midfield.

Though the visitors had the upper hand in terms of possession almost from the outset it was 20 minutes before Peter Cherrie had a save to make and when he did, from O’Connor’s free-kick, he did very well to push the ball over. From the corner, though, he and his defenders seemed to switch off, and Ger O’Brien’s cross to beyond the far post was turned back neatly by Forrester for Browne to side-foot home from a couple of yards.

Dundalk gradually battled back and, having passed up one excellent chance when Barry Conlon badly misdirected his header, they finished the opening half strongly.

From the point when O’Connor set up Bolger for the second goal eight minutes after the restart, though, the game really looked beyond the hosts. They almost gave themselves a chance when Michael Rafter shot narrowly over on the turn from 12 yards.

After Derek Foran finally gave the local fans something to cheer about with a spirited goal line clearance from Bolger, O’Connor wrapped things up with an opportunistic long-range effort.

DUNDALK:Cherrie; O’Brien (Shannon, 74 mins), Burns, Foran, Osbourne; Walsh, Shields, Mountney, Shanahan (McDonnell, 78 mins); Conlon, Rafter (McKenna, 85).

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC:Murphy; O’Brien, Kenna, Browne, Bermingham; Chambers (Bolger, 41 mins); O’Connor, Forrester (Russell, 68 mins), Carroll, Kelly (Faherty, 84 mins); Fagan.

Referee: A Kelly (Cork).

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