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Monday 5 December 2016

Cork smash and grab raid dents Saints' Euro hopes

St Pat's Athletic 1 Cork City 2

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For a club who are proud of their European tradition, St Patrick's Athletic are making hard work of it in their task of securing a place in Europe for next season.

Despite a 2-1 loss at home to Cork City last night, their sixth defeat in eight league games, the Saints can still get into the Europa League but truly, the 2015 season is one campaign that can't end soon enough for the Inchicore club.

Pats came into this game knowing a draw would all but give them a spot in the Europa League next season as, to miss out, they'd need to lose all three of their remaining league games by a large scoreline with Bohemians winning both of their matches.

Yet it was Cork, already guaranteed European football but who hope to get a top-two finish, who took control and had a 2-0 lead after only 23 minutes.

Cork have had their own problems of late, league form suffering as they put their focus on next month's Cup final, but two goals from two chances did the job for City here. The first was a messy affair. The home defence failed to deal with John Dunleavy's corner on nine minutes, Killian Brennan on the line blocked the effort from Ross Gaynor but the rebound fell nicely for Steven Beattie, who tapped home.

Pats responded with efforts from Brennan and Chris Fagan but their equaliser never came as Cork doubled the lead. Karl Sheppard lobbed in a high ball from the half-way line aimed at Danny Morrissey, and with a sublime finish Morrissey chipped keeper Conor O'Malley.

Pats were a lot better after the break and Cork keeper Mark McNulty was busy, Jamie McGrath and Chris Fagan with good efforts but it took until the 89th minute for the Saints to beat McNulty, Aaron Greene scoring from the edge of the box.

But in front of a poor Monday night crowd of just 723, that wasn't enough as City go four points clear of third-placed Shamrock Rovers.

 

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