Saints captain Ger O'Brien lifts the trophy. Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Four-star Pat's come back from a goal down to retain the EA Sports Cup

The Saints were 4-1 winners over Limerick in this evening’s final at a packed Markets Field.

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC retained the EA Sports Cup after a well-deserved 4-1 win on Shannonside in front of a bumper crowd.

Limerick led at the half thanks to a great Lee-J Lynch strike, but second half goals from Christy Fagan, Conan Byrne, Jamie McGrath and Graham Kelly ensured the trophy went back to Inchicore.

Both sides made just one change each from their previous game — Pat’s opting for last year’s penalty shootout hero Conor O’Malley in goals — replacing Brendan Clarke from last week’s 3-2 win over Cobh Ramblers.

Meanwhile, Limerick, fresh off the back of a 4-0 win over Waterford, replaced Shane Tracy with Shaun Kelly.

The hosts began the brighter, with half chances for Lynch and Paul O’Conor inside the opening fifteen minutes.

The former latched onto a cross from the left from Sean Russell, but couldn’t make solid contact, while O’Conor’s strike from the edge of the area drifted just wide of O’Malley’s post.

Michael D Higgins attends the game President Michael D Higgins. Tommy Dickson / INPHO Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

Since returning as a League of Ireland venue in July last year, the Markets Field finally had its first magic moment — when Lynch put the Blues ahead on eighteen minutes.

Gaining possession about thirty yards from goal, he took a touch into space before unleashing a thunderbolt from range. The flight of the ball deceived Conor O’Malley and the Garryowen venue erupted.

Naturally, the game slowed down at this point, but the Saints did have the best chance of the remainder of the opening period.

Fagan held the ball up well in a central area, before freeing Byrne down the right-hand side. His dinked cross found Billy Dennehy unmarked at the back, but his header hit the post and went wide.

The beginning of the second half belonged to the Saints, and perhaps the biggest moment for them early on was referee Rob Rogers’ decision to book Byrne for an apparent dive. Byrne, who tormented Limerick’s left side all night, went down under a challenge inside the box, but was shown a yellow card.

The Saints equalised on the 65th minute through the ever-reliable Fagan. Breaking clear down the left, Dennehy flew past Shaun Kelly before squaring for the striker who had the easiest of tasks.

St. Patricks celebrate scoring their second goal Pat's players celebrate one of their goals. Tommy Dickson / INPHO Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

Little more than the Saints deserved for their second half showing, the lead goal arrived with seven minutes to go. A cross from the left skipped over everyone, before hitting the superb Conan Byrne on the chest – allowing him to volley home at the far post.

The result was sealed less than five minutes later when Jamie McGrath raced through to provide a sensational finish by chipping over Hall. Kelly added a fourth in stoppage time.

LIMERICK: Freddy Hall; Shaun Kelly (Shane Tracy, 66), Paudie O’Connor, Robbie Williams, Sean Russell; Paul O’Conor, Shane Duggan; Stephen Kenny (Garbhan Coughlan, 80), Lee-J Lynch, Aaron Greene; Chris Mulhall (John O’Flynn, 71).

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Conor O’Malley; Ger O’Brien, Sean Hoare, Michael Barker, Ian Bermingham; Graham Kelly, Lee Desmond; Conan Byrne, Jamie McGrath, Billy Dennehy; Christy Fagan (Dinny Corcoran, 87).

Referee: Rob Rogers (Dublin)

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