League Report: St Patrick’s Athletic 1 - 0 Dundalk

Ruairi Keating was the match winner for the Saints

Ruairi Keating was the match winner for the Saints Credit: Thomas Flinkow (ETPhotos)

Macdara Ferris reports from Richmond Park

St. Patrick’s Athletic will feel relieved to get back to winning ways after three defeats in a row with Ruairi Keating scoring the only goal of the game against the Lilywhites. The result left the home supporters particularly delighted with their 1-0 win over Dundalk as it heaped more pressure on former Pat’s manager Stephen O’Donnell.

The Lilywhites remain rooted to the bottom of the table with just a one point – earned on opening night of the season - although the put in a much improved performance. Pat's meanwhile doubled their tally to six from their first five games.

All the talk coming into the match was about the goalkeepers after their dire performances in their team’s respective defeats on Monday. Marcelo Pitaluga dropped to the Pats bench, while George Shelvey didn’t make the Dundalk match day squad.

That was one of five changes from the Lilywhites horror show at home when they lost 5-0 to Sligo Rovers – their worst league defeat in Oriel Park for 34 years.

Keeper Ross Munro had stepped out to claim on the edge of Dundalk’s box a deep free kick from Jamie Lennon on three minutes – a move that eased the nerves of the watching Lilywhites’ supporters after Monday’s trauma.

It was an even contest up until the Saints took the lead on the half hour mark. You couldn’t really fault Munro for the goal as he saved Ruairi Keating’s first effort but the striker reacted smartly to turn home the rebound.

The opener came from a ball on the turn and over the top by Chris Forrester that was touched delightfully into the patch of Keating by Brandon Kavanagh.

Dundalk racked up the fouls in the first half but referee Ray Matthews kept his cards in his pockets when one for persistent fouling might well have been justified. Scott High wasn’t shy of putting the tackle in. One hard but fair one on Anto Breslin had the Dundalk supporters vocal in their appreciation.

The home fans meanwhile were quick to get on the back of their former manager Stephen O’Donnell. His side had gone close in the 21st minute when Joe Redmond was required to block James Gullan’s shot after good work by Ciaran McGuckin even if it looked he fouled Jason McClelland in the build-up.

A late challenge three minutes into the second half on Kieran Freeman saw Robbie Benson go in the book. In the 54th minute, the Athletic carved out two decent chances.

Initially Kian Leavy's shot stung the hands of Munro and when Keating came for this rebound the offside flag went up. Moments later he was diving through the air to get on the end of Freeman’s cross but he directed his effort just off target.

On 66 minutes, Munro did really well to push out Forrester’s header off a whipped Brandon Kavanagh left foot free kick. That was Kavanagh’s last involvement as Jon Daly brought on Jake Mulraney to provide a bit more phyisicality.

The chances kept coming for the home team without reward. Mulraney fed Leavy who went down in the box to shouts of penalty. The ref waved played on and when the Saints recycled the ball Keating skewed a shot wide of the target.

High hit a low shot ten minutes from time that just went by the butt of the Pats post as the Saints failed to find a second goal to relieve the nervers of the home supporters.

They were left hanging on a bit at the end as the visitors pressed Pat's hard but a freekick well over the cross bar from Robbie Benson was as close as the Lilywhites came.

When the final whistle went Ireland technical advisor Brian Kerr watching on from the stands looked very happy - a good week for Greener.

St. Patrick's Athletic: Daniel Rogers; Anthony Breslin, Kieran Freeman, Joseph Redmond, Luke Turner; Christopher Forrester, Brandon Kavanagh (Jake Mulraney 69), Kian Leavy (Alex Nolan 86), Jamie Lennon, Jason McClelland (Mason Melia 69); Ruairí Keating (Cian Kavanagh 86).
Subs not used: Marcelo Pitaluga, Conor Keeley, Alfie Taylor, Arran Pettifer, Aaron Bolger.

Booked: Alex Nolan (90+2)

Dundalk: Ross Munro; Archie Davies, Andrew Boyle, Louie Annesley (Cameron Elliott 84), Hayden Muller; Scott High, Zak Bradshaw (Koen Oostenbrink 60), Robert Benson; Ciaran McGuckin (Ryan O'Kane 70), Jamie Gullan (Robert Mahon 84), Daryl Horgan (Samuel Durrant 60).
Subs not used: Zak Johnson, Paul Doyle, John Mountney.
Booked: Robbie Benson (48), Louie Annesley (68), Robert Mahon (90).

Referee: Ray Matthews.
Attendance: 4,000 (estimate)
extratime.com Player of the Match: Ruairi Keating (St. Patrick’s Athletic)