Dave Donnelly reports from Richmond Park
If the lack of gametime for his three first-choice goalkeepers continues to be a concern for Stephen Kenny, he could do worse than to call on the talents of Bohemians stopper James Talbot.
The netminder pulled off a string of top-class stops to end St Patrick’s Athletic’s slim hopes of snatching fourth position on the final day of the season.
A stunning stop to deny Robbie Benson’s point-blank header typified the keeper’s afternoon as his side ground out a 2-1 win to end their season on a high.
For the Saints, Sligo Rovers’ win over Dundalk made the defeat immaterial but they were left to rue a string of missed chances and defensive errors in the build-up to both Bohs goals.
The visitors had a long 16 days to stew on the shock 2-0 defeat to Finn Harps in their final home game of the season and none more so than manager Keith Long.
He made six changes to the side that lined out that day, two of them enforced as Anto Breslin and Keith Buckley sat the game out with suspension.
One of the beneficiaries was 16-year-old striker Evan Ferguson, who was handed his full league debut up front.
The talented youngster wasted little time getting in the thick of the action as he was central to the game’s first flashpoint on 16 minutes.
Danny Grant’s ball across the face of goal was bundled into the net by the striker but his celebrations were shortlived as referee Rob Hennessy immediately pointed for a free kick.
Hennessy was adamant that Ferguson had inadvertently used his hand to turn the ball over the line and waved away any protest from the away side.
Pats took their warning seriously and they edged in front with eight minutes remaining in the first half, thanks to Jordan Gibson.
The winger got on the end of a smart move as he was picked out by Shane Griffin before cutting inside and blasting through a host of bodies on the Bohs line.
Griffin was forced off before half time, to be replaced by Ian Bermingham, but it was Grant on the opposite flank causing most of the issues for Rory Feely.
The defender found himself caught under a Dan Casey boot forward on the stroke of half time and Grant nipped in behind him before placing a shot low past Brendan Clarke.
If the concession was untimely for the Saints, they emerged for the second half with laser focus and created a string of chances in the early minutes.
Talbot had already been forced at full-stretch to parry clear a ferocious Chris Forrester strike when he was again called into action by Robbie Benson.
The midfielder met the ball flush with a header from five yards out but somehow the keeper found the reactions to bat the ball clear.
The missed chances proved costly for the Saints as they fell behind just past the hour mark when Promise Omochere was fouled by Feely amid a melee in the box. Wright punished the error.
Pats would have further chances to close the deficit with sub Darragh Burns and Gibson again going close but, with Sligo leading Dundalk, their chances of fourth slipped away in the chilly Inchicore air.
St Patrick’s Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Rory Feely (Jason McClelland 82), Luke McNally, Lee Desmond, Shane Griffin (Ian Bermingham 43); Jamie Lennon, Chris Forrester, Robbie Benson; Jordan Gibson, Billy King, Georgie Kelly (Darragh Burns 68).
Subs not used: Josh Keeley (gk), David Titov, James Doona, Ben McCormack.
Booked: Shane Griffin (28), Rory Feely (62), Chris Forrester (64).
Bohemians: James Talbot; Michael Barker, Rob Cornwall, Dan Casey, Paddy Kirk; Promise Omochere (Jack Moylan 90), JJ Lunney, Ross Tierney (James Finnerty 90+4), Danny Grant; Evan Ferguson (Conor Levingston 75), Andre Wright.
Subs not used: Stephen McGuinness (gk), Dawson Devoy, Keith Ward, Dinny Corcoran.
Booked: JJ Lunney (36).
Referee: Rob Hennessy.
Extratime.com Player of the Match: James Talbot (Bohemians).