Friday 17 January 2020

Saints Smashed

Dundalk 4 St Patrick's Ath 0

GREAT DANE: Dundalk’s Dane Massey scores in last night’s SSE Airtricity League Premier Division clash with St Patrick’s Athletic. Pic: Sportsfile.
GREAT DANE: Dundalk’s Dane Massey scores in last night’s SSE Airtricity League Premier Division clash with St Patrick’s Athletic. Pic: Sportsfile.

The damage was done before their arrival at Oriel Park, but this was a challenging end to the season for St Patrick's Athletic.

On night of celebration for Dundalk, who returned to winning ways ahead of the trophy lift, it was confirmed that the Saints would miss out on European football in 2020.

Any hope of a dramatic conclusion was ended by news that Derry were well in control against Finn Harps.


In truth, from that point onwards this was another learning exercise for Stephen O'Donnell upon his return to his old stomping ground.

He was given a warm ovation beforehand and Dundalk fans chanted his name during the match.

After serving as opposition scout for the majority of the season, he played his part in their title joy.

But he's got another job on his hands now.

The Saints arrived on a high following an impressive midweek win against Derry to bring things to the final day.

However, it's the dropped points at home to UCD and Waterford that will trouble them in the post-mortem.

O'Donnell's side were competitive in the first half here, yet they were floored by the concession of a routine set-piece, with Dane Massey's header getting Dundalk back in the groove.

Prior to that, James Doona had come agonisingly close to putting the guests ahead after a Jake Walker cross narrowly evaded the in-rushing winger.

Back-to-back defeats had checked Lilywhites ambitions of setting new points records, but their unbeaten record at home was safe from that juncture.

Daniel Kelly added a second before the interval, capitalising on a clever through ball from Robbie Benson.


After that, it was a case of seeing out the remaining 45 and avoiding injuries ahead of Sunday week's FAI Cup decider with Shamrock Rovers and an opportunity for a historic treble.

Patrick Hoban did have something to play for after the restart, with his long-term lead in the golden boot race wiped out by Junior's hat-trick exploits for Derry.

The Dundalk striker ambitiously tried to claim a third goal following a shot that struck the post before bouncing back off Brendan Clarke and seemingly crossing the line, although it was disputed by the Saints.

He scored 29 times last term in the league, but finished up on 13 this time around.

Clarke was sore enough already after being on the receiving end of a hefty first-half challenge from Hoban that earned him a booking and Perth eventually decided to withdraw his number nine as a precaution after another foul captured the attention of referee Graham Kelly.

After all, there's a much bigger prize at stake at the Aviva.

Dundalk didn't ease up, however, and Clarke was called on to make a series of important saves before substitute Georgie Kelly added a fourth with a bullet header.

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