DERRY City’s hopes of competing for a fourth place finish in the Airtricity League Premier Division took a nosedive at Richmond Park last night, the “Candy Stripes” overwhelmed by a resurgent St. Patrick’s Athletic.
SEAMUS MURPHY reports from Richmond Park
And while the men from Inchicore thoroughly deserved their victory on the night, one could point to Derry’s exhausting double trip to Dublin over a four day period, those extra miles taking their toll on the night.
Pat’s, of course, who did not play on Friday night more or less dominated last night’s game and while that dominance was not reflected in the scoreline until the latter stages, Derry can have no complaints with this reversal.
The defeat, Derry’s first in their last five games, will see them struggle to secure a place in the Europa League next season through the league programme as the Brandywell side have now fallen nine points adrift of last night’s opponents, who occupy fourth place.
That said, Declan Devine’s side remain in the last eight of the FAI Cup and with Mervue United causing a major shock in Waterford last night when winning at the R.S.C., the Galway side will visit Brandywell in two week’s time.
But back to last night’s game when Derry’s suffered a repeat of their heaviest defeat of the season - against Drogheda at the Brandywell in late June - however, the injury blight which has hovered over the club since the start of the season continued with Stewart Greacen forced to limp off having stretched for a ball midway through the first half.
For St Pat’s, the game was won in the second half thanks to terrific goals from Sean O’Connor, Jake Kelly and Vinny Faherty who gave the home side their biggest win since April as they blew a tired looking Derry away.
The victory edges Liam Buckley’s side back up to third place in the table ahead of Shamrock Rovers on goal difference.
Following an open first half, St. Patrick’s got their deserved lead goal 12 minutes into the second.
Left-back Ian Bermingham began the move breaking from defence. He fed James Chambers who put the ball wide left to Christy Fagan whose low cross was swept home by O’Connor.
St. Patrick’s sealed their win on 86 minutes.
Substitute Chris Forrester broke on the right to put over the perfect pacey, low cross to the back post for the in-rushing Kelly to blast to the net.
Faherty then added a stunning third with a dipping volley two minutes into stoppage time to register his first goal since returning to the club from Galway United.
In a blistering opening to the game, both sides might have scored twice each inside the opening 12 minutes.
Derry weren’t lacking in confidence after Friday’s 2-0 win at Shelbourne with Patrick McEleney promptly working Pat’s keeper Barry Murphy from distance before looping a header from Simon Madden’s excellent cross onto the St. Patrick’s keeper’s crossbar.
At the other end, Christy Fagan failed to get the decisive touch to Kelly’s inviting low cross. Fierce shots from John Russell and Sean O’Connor in quick succession then forced Gerard Doherty into solid parry saves.
The Derry keeper remained the busier of the custodians and he was well positioned again on 32 minutes when O’Connor got power into a low drive from outside the area.
After a lull following an injury to rugged Derry defender Stewart Greacen, the sides ended the first half as they’d begun, with goalscoring chances at either end in time added on.
The Scot appeared to over-stretch and as a result suffered a lower leg injury.
And there’s no doubt that Derry will be hoping that it will not be a repeat of the ankle ligament problem which kept Greacen out of action for eight weeks.
Derry winger McEleney set up Marc Brolly who rifled a shot inches over the top.
Fagan was then put through on goal by Russell at the Inchicore end only to pull his shot wide of Doherty’s right-hand post.
There’s no doubt the result will prove bitterly disappointing for the Candy Stripes who, will reflect on the FAI’s decision forcing them to travel to Dublin twice over a four day period.
Again from a Derry pojnt of view, rest will become the dominant feature this week as they prepare to host a visit from Cork City this Friday night.
St. Patrick’s Athletic: Murphy; O’Brien, Kenna, Browne, Bermingham; Russell, Chambers (Bolger, 73 mins.), Carroll; O’Connor (Forrester, 77 mins.), Fagan (Faherty, 67 mins.), J. Kelly.
Derry City: Doherty; Madden, Greacen (McBride 33 mins.), S. McEleney, B. McNamee; Brolly (Duffy, 65 mins.), Molloy, Higgins, P. McEleney; Murphy, Farren (Curran, 77 mins.).
Referee: Rob Rogers (Dublin).