Fahey scores the winner. ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Fahey hits brilliant winner in front of O'Neill and Keane as Saints lift President's Cup

St Patrick’s Athletic’s international midfielder impressed in a 1-0 victory over Sligo Rovers.

St Patrick’s Athletic 1
Sligo Rovers 0

KEITH FAHEY GAVE Martin O’Neill plenty to ponder as St Patrick’s Athletic claimed the inaugural President’s Cup against Sligo Rovers.

Fahey’s 25-yard volley was worth the admission price alone and ensured that the league champions took the bragging rights in this new pre-season curtain raiser.

President Michael D Higgins was joined by O’Neill and Roy Keane in a crowd of almost 1,500 in Richmond Park and Fahey made the most of his audition in front of the Ireland management.

His poise in midfield helped Pat’s win that battle and in turn control most of the game against 2013′s cup winners.

And if O’Neill wants to make good on his promise of scouting the league’s best talent, he might well be inclined to have a second look at Fahey’s partners in crime Greg Bolger and Killian Brennan.

It was Brennan who tried to unlock the Sligo defence time and again in a first half which entertained by pre-season standards without offering a wealth of chances.

Sligo had a chance to strike first but Danny North scuffed his shot wide with 14 minutes on the clock.

Three minutes later the crowd were on their feet. Sligo scrambled Brennan’s corner clear but only as far as Fahey, whose volley spun off the outside of his boot and away from Brush.

Chris Forrester passed up a chance to double Pat’s lead when he pounced on Danny Ledwith’s stray pass, only to fire wide.

David Cawley had a chance to test Brendan Clarke on 36 minutes but his shot was straight at the Pat’s keeper.

Greg Bolger lifts the cup as Paddy McCaul and Michael D. Higgins look on Ger O'Brien lifts the cup alongside President Higgins. ©INPHO / Donall Farmer ©INPHO / Donall Farmer / Donall Farmer

And Brennan kept Richard Brush on his toes at the other end, trying his luck from all of 40 yards on the stroke of half-time.

A bright start to the second half saw Pat’s penalty appeal waved away by referee Paul McLaughlin but their players, and the bulk of the home support, were adamant that Jeff Henderson had handled inside the box.

Pat’s had the ball in the net a minute later following Conan Byrne’s low centre but Christy Fagan was flagged offside when he tapped in at the back post.

It jolted Sligo into life and they enjoyed their best period with John Russell forcing Kenny Browne into a last-ditch block, and then heading into Clarke’s hands just before the hour mark.

Sligo boss Ian Baraclough tried to add some more attacking impetus when he introduced Raf Cretaro and Paul O’Conor for the final half hour.

But the best chances fell to Pat’s, not least when Brennan’s shot curled just wide with 10 minutes on the clock.

Danny North had one last chance to save Sligo when the ball deflected his way deep into stoppage time but the best he could do was direct it back across the face of goal, inviting the decisive touch that never came.

ST PAT’S: Clarke, O’Brien (c), Oman, Browne, Bermingham, Byrne, Bolger, Brennan, Fahey (Lynch, 88′), Forrester (Kavanagh, 73), Fagan (Quigley, 88′).Substitutes: Gilmartin, Foran, McCormack, Chambers, Lynch, Quigley, Kavanagh.

SLIGO: Brush, Keane, McMillan, Henderson, Ledwith, Ndo (Cretaro, 61′), Cawley (Conneely, 80′), Russell (O’Conor, 61), Greene, Odiahambo, North. Substitutes: Rogers, Spillane, Dykes, O’Conor, Conneely, Cretaro.

Referee: Paul McLoughlin

VIDEO: Christian Benteke scores an incredible overhead volley

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