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Late Cunningham equaliser keeps honours even in Inchicore

Substitute Padraic Cunningham scored a dramatic equaliser six minutes from time for Shane Keegan’s side.

Padraic Cunningham celebrates his goal.
Padraic Cunningham celebrates his goal.
Image: Gary Carr/INPHO

St Patrick’s Athletic 1

Galway United 1

Aaron Gallagher reports from Richmond Park

A CRUCIAL RELEGATION six pointer saw honours even at Richmond Park as St Pat’s let a fragile second half lead slip with a late Padraic Cunningham equaliser six minutes from time for Galway United.

Both sides have spent considerable time attempting to exit the bottom three this season and a point shared means Galway remain 12th while St Pat’s move up to ninth in the table.

St Pat’s had the worst home form in the league heading into Friday night’s game having lost six of their nine games in Richmond Park this season.

They met a Galway side, however, who had gone 20 league fixtures without a win away from home which stretched back to May 2016.

Ronan Murray’s persistent battle with St Pat’s goalkeeper Conor O’Malley was the standout highlight of an uninspiring first half.

While St Pat’s boss Liam Buckley stated his side’s need to take the upper hand in this game Galway were the ones who produced a litany of chances where the hosts struggled to get going in the final third.

Murray was a constant thorn in the side of St Pat’s. The 25-year old had his stamp all over this game and the constant attacking menace from the Mayo native combining with a remarkably fragile home defence meant chances came in their troves for the attacker.

But Murray’s craft to produce chances and his guile to get into good positions around the home penalty area was let down by some poor quality finishing which saw him sky one effort over the crossbar and another plucked acrobatically out of the top corner by goalkeeper O’Malley.

St Pat’s came out in the second half brimming with renewed energy and stole the lead less than two minutes after the interval.

A poor cross directed at Christy Fagan following some fine link-up play with Darragh Markey saw the ball fall at the back post to the feet of Conan Byrne.

The winger stuck the ball into the bottom corner with a deft finish thanks to a deflection from Colm Horgan which brought it past his goalkeeper Conor Winn.

Conan Byrne celebrates scoring the first goal of the game Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

Byrne scored the equaliser when the Saints came from two goals down to draw with Limerick last Saturday and registered his fifth goal of the campaign with his latest strike, his 50th league goal for the club he joined in 2013.

With almost the entire the second half to play, were results to remain as they were it would see St Pat’s rise three places into eighth in the table, while Galway would begin to lose touch with the remainder of the table two points adrift of Drogheda second from bottom.

There was still plenty of time to bag an equaliser for the Tribesman, however Liam Buckley’s introduction of both Billy Dennehy and striker Josh O’Hanlon signalled his intent to grab a second.

Shane Keegan’s side did not lie down, however, and without an outstanding display from goalkeeper O’Malley they so easily could have levelled the scores earlier.

Murray had another effort saved as St Pat’s began to buckle under significant pressure inside their own final third before the Saints were finally breached with just six minutes remaining.

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A dangerous long throw from Marc Ludden was knocked on inside the box before being poked into the bottom corner by second half substitute Padraic Cunningham to make it 1-1.

Galway rallied at the death and another late effort from Kevin Devaney so nearly flew into the top corner having put the ball through JJ Lunney’s legs along the right touchline in a fine piece of skill beforehand.

Neither side could break the deadlock in a manic final five minutes which saw O’Malley tip a sizzling Murray free kick over the crossbar in the last kick of the game.

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Conor O’Malley, Graham Kelly, Rory Feely, Gavin Peers (Sam Verdon 82), JJ Lunney, Patrick Cregg, Lee Desmond, Darragh Markey, Alex O’Hanlon (Billy Dennehy 65), Conan Byrne, Christy Fagan (Josh O’Hanlon 65)

GALWAY UNITED: Conor Winn, Colm Horgan, Stephen Folan, Lee Grace, Marc Ludden, David Cawley, Gavan Holohan (Conor Melody 70), Alex Byrne (Eoin McCormack 79), Kevin Devaney, Ronan Murray, Vinny Faherty (Padraic Cunningham 70)

Referee: Derek Tomney

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Aaron Gallagher

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