Provocative player celebration sparked fracas following Pat’s European clash in Tallaght

Adam O’Reilly and Bradley De Nooijer were sent off after the final whistle amid a frustrating night for the Saints.

Pat's and CSKA Sofia clash players after the game.
Pat's and CSKA Sofia clash players after the game.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Updated Aug 12th 2022, 8:33 AM

THERE WAS palpable tension throughout the match as CSKA Sofia edged St Patrick’s Athletic 2-1 on aggregate in last night’s Europa Conference League qualifier at Tallaght Stadium.

With the tie in the balance, it became an increasingly tempestuous affair. 

There were some over-zealous tackles, off-the-ball incidents and an abundance of gamesmanship, particularly after CSKA went ahead in the tie after 81 minutes and knew it was in their best interests to kill the game by trying to orchestrate countless stoppages.

In total, there were 13 yellow cards — five for Pat’s and eight for the visitors.

It was somewhat of a surprise that both sides managed to keep 11 men on the pitch over the course of the 90 minutes, although the referee did issue red cards to Pat’s player Adam O’Reilly and CSKA’s Dutch defender Bradley De Nooijer after the final whistle.

The duo were dismissed after a fracas involving several players ended proceedings on an unfortunate but rather apt note given the bad-tempered encounter that had preceded these scenes.

With the assembled press pack all busy hastily finishing off match reports at full-time, no one seemed sure exactly who or what had caused the trouble in the first place.

Yet Pat’s midfielder Jamie Lennon gave his take on the incident afterwards, suggesting that a CSKA player celebrating in front of Pat’s fans was the cause of the initial furore.

“It was probably just frustration from both players. Your man celebrating in front of our fans, I don’t really like that. I suppose looking back now on it, I’m just thinking it’s probably a compliment to us. Because after Mura, I’m sure they were rubbing their hands together thinking they were gonna play us, easy next round, get through to the playoffs.

“The reaction they showed in front of our fans probably shows that they know coming here was going to be a tough game and they’re probably happier than we went over there getting a result. So you just get on with it. Stuff like that happens after, but it’s settled down.

“That’s all it was. And then I didn’t see anything else that happened. But they ended up going over, we just went inside, and clapped the fans off. It happens.”

He continued: “It was a good game to be involved in actually, it was enjoyable. I felt like we could have got a couple more decisions [from the officials] and I haven’t seen the penalty back. I know it was handball but it looked very close to him.

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“So it was a feisty enough game but you do get a lot of yellow cards in Europe. I don’t think they stand for many physical tackles and stuff like that, but just get on with it.”

In addition, Lennon expressed disappointment at the result and blamed the Saints’ failure to take their chances as the biggest factor in the loss.

“We’ve been through a lot in the last couple of weeks with Europe and we had full belief we could come here and at least draw the game. But it’s disappointing, it’s hard to take now, so fresh, downstairs the lads are absolutely gutted but I don’t think anyone could fault the effort and attitude that the lads had throughout the game.

“We had plenty of chances, probably the better chances in the game but we just didn’t take them tonight.

“I think we got the crowd on our side from minute one. The first couple of tackles, the crowd were up for it. And, you know, we fed off that on the pitch but it just didn’t happen for us and it’s disappointing.”

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Paul Fennessy

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