League Report: St Patrick’s Athletic 1 - 0 Sligo Rovers

Andrew Dempsey reports from Richmond Park 

Kian Leavy’s first-half hit edged St Patrick’s Athletic past Sligo Rovers - and secured their place in European competition next year. 

The Saints are now guaranteed a top-three finish as they cannot be caught by fifth-placed Shelbourne. 

But if it was not for Leavy’s strike from the outside of the box they would have come unstuck at home against the Bit O’Red.

They can still catch leaders Shamrock Rovers but that may be beyond them at this stage of the season.

Coming into the game knowing that only a win would keep their slim title hopes alive, the Saints were unchanged from their 2-0 win over Bohemians on Friday night at Dalymount Park.

And they had the first shot in anger of the contest with Kian Leavy curling an effort just over the bar in the seventh minute.

But Sligo - reeling from a dismal 2-0 loss at home to Dundalk - grew into the contest and forced good saves from Dean Lyness in the Athletic’s goal. 

Fabrice Hartmann had their first chance of the game when he forced a low save from Dean Lyness after making a chance out of nothing.

And Kailin Barlow then made sure that Lyness had to be agile to deny the midfielder’s looping header.

From the resulting corner, Garry Buckley met Hartmann’s delivery but saw his header blocked on the line by his captain David Cawley.

That near-miss sparked the Athletic back into life with the lively Conor Carty going mightily close with a one-on-one. 

The Bolton Wanderers loanee turned John Mahon with ease after being found by Leavy’s threaded through ball, only to see his effort saved by Richard Brush. 

And Brush was called into action again soon after to deny Jason McClelland. 

Former UCD wideman McClelland was played in by Leavy but he too was denied an opener by Rovers netminder Brush. 

A goal was coming at that stage and it was no surprise that Leavy was the man to score, although the manner of it was to some degree.

After some good build-up play with Chris Forrester, Sam Curtis and Jamie Lennon, Leavy jinked past a laboured Sligo Rovers leg to whip a sizzling strike into the top corner.

And while it took a deflection from Cawley’s leg, it was a deserving goal nonetheless. 

St Pat’s went in one goal in the clear at the interval but neither side were able to create anything of note during a drab period of the game.

Both teams had to wait until the 79th minute to see a shot on target with Barlow forcing a smart save from Lyness who had precious little to do before that. 

Nando Pijnaker had a rare shot on goal just minutes before, but he too could not convert - although his effort skewed horribly over the bar. 

But that was the best that Bit O’Red could produce as an attacking entity with the Saints coasting home.

Pijnaker went close again in injury time but his header went over and the Saints could secure their place in Europe for another year on the spin. #

For John Russell’s struggling Sligo, they remain six points ahead of Cork City with two games left to play. 

But they should have enough points in the bag to avoid a relegation play-off next month.


St Patrick's Athletic: Dean Lyness; Anthony Breslin, Sam Curtis, David Norman Jr., Joseph Redmond; Mark Doyle, Christopher Forrester, Kian Leavy (Adam Murphy 71), Jamie Lennon, Jason McClelland (Alex Nolan 79); Conor Carty (Thomas Lonergan 71).

Subs not used: Daniel Rogers, Ryan McLaughlin, John-Alan McGrath, Jake Mulraney, Mason Melia, Ben McCormack.

Booked: Sam Curtis (60).


Sligo Rovers: Richard Brush; Carl Brannefalk, Garry Buckley, John Mahon, Nando Zen Pijnaker; David Cawley (Frank Liivak 68), Niall Morahan, Karl O’Sullivan; Kailin Barlow, William Fitzgerald (Pedro Alves Correia 68), Fabrice Hartmann (Stefan Radosavljević 72).

Subs not used: Conor Walsh, Daniel Lafferty, Conor Reynolds, Lukas Browning-Lagerfeldt, Owen Elding, Gareth McElroy.

Booked: Carl Brannefalk (24), Fabrice Hartmann (40), Niall Morahan (62), William Fitzgerald (65), Nando Zen Pijnaker (85).


Referee: Eoghan O’Shea.

Attendance: 3,500 (estimate).

extratime.com Player of the Match: Kian Leavy (St Patrick’s Athletic).