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St Pat's warm up for big Europe clash with entertaining draw against Dundalk

Dundalk head coach Stephen O’Donnell, formerly of Pat’s, was sent off late on.

St. Patrick's Mark Doyle and Robbie Benson of Dundalk.
St. Patrick's Mark Doyle and Robbie Benson of Dundalk.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

St. Patrick’s Athletic 1

Dundalk FC 1

Darryl Geraghty reports from Richmond Park

ST PAT’S WARMED up for their big Europa Conference League second-round qualifier with NS Mura with a dramatic and thoroughly entertaining encounter with Dundalk.

A first-half Eoin Doyle strike was cancelled out by Daniel Kelly in the second half as both teams were forced to share the spoils despite having chances to emerge victorious.

It was second versus fourth in the stunning Dublin 8 sunshine between two sides who will have aspirations of top-four finishes come the end of the campaign.

Although it wasn’t his first visit back to the club that he had led to FAI Cup glory last season, the wounds of his abrupt departure still haven’t healed around Inchicore as Stevie O’Donnell was greeted with rounds of colourful chants from the fanatical home fans as the game kicked off.

The Dundalk boss made four changes to the side that lost the Louth derby, and his side started brightly and could have been ahead after just a couple of minutes through a quick counter. Keith Ward, playing in the number 10 role, slipped in winger Daniel Kelly who then fizzed a ball right across the face of goal just out of reach of the outstretched Pat Hoban.

The last meeting between the two ended in a tight 1-0 home win at Oriel Park and a stalemate before that, so goals had been at a premium recently but with a quarter of an hour played it was the hosts who broke the deadlock through a swift break of their own.

Billy King was released down the right wing, whipping in a low cross to the penalty spot and Mark Doyle showed great vision to tee-up namesake Eoin, who took a couple of touches and seemed to stumble before poking the ball towards goal before eventually being volleyed into his own net by Andy Boyle. If credited with the finish that may have been on target, the ex-Bolton and Swindon man would take his tally up to ten league goals for the season.

The visitors responded well to the setback, fashioning a couple of excellent chances to equalise. Firstly, the crafty Ward showed excellent feet on the edge of the area to work some space but got his left footed volley all wrong before the talismanic Pat Hoban missed a gilt edged header from just yards out, having been found expertly by Lewis Macari.

With a big three points on the line, the end-to-end encounter became a bit more of an edgy affair, with Chris Forrester and Greg Sloggett having a little niggle at each other off the ball.

The game continued in the same vein as both sides came flying out for the second half, becoming slightly scrappy with little in the way of goalmouth action, although Saints skipper Joe Redmond did well to stand big as Hoban looked to unleash a low strike from just inside the area.

In the lead-up to kick-off, the Athletic announced new signing Serge Atakayi, a former Glasgow Rangers B & Finnish U21 international, who looks a replacement for recently departed Darragh Burns and was introduced on the right wing with an hour played.

stephen-odonnell-is-sent-off-by-robert-hennessy Dundalk head coach Stephen O’Donnell is sent off by Referee Robert Hennessy. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

And the all-action 23-year old was not shy in making an impression: firstly, teeing up Mark Doyle in the box, whose shot was eventually blocked, before being booked for a late challenge on Darragh Leahy and just minutes later, he could have easily won a penalty when he looked to burst past Andy Boyle into the box before being brought down.

Chances were beginning to come and cult hero Tunde Owolabi really should have doubled his side’s lead when he missed a glorious one-on-one chance having been slipped in by Atakayi.

The home side were punished ruthlessly for the sloppy miss almost instantly. Adam O’Reilly, who had been having a flawless game in the middle of the park, misplaced a pass to Hoban. The big front man sprayed the ball out wide to Daniel Kelly, who cut inside onto his right and saw his deflected strike loop up over the helpless Joseph Anang.

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Richmond was rocking as they looked to rejuvenate their side and almost paid dividends as Mark Doyle rose highest at the back post but saw his header cannon off the crossbar.

With just minutes remaining, the Lilywhites missed a glorious chance to take all three points when goalscorer Kelly found himself free at the back post, and having been picked out by Darragh Leahy with a delightful clipped cross, got his header all wrong, nodding down and wide.

The biggest cheer of the night seemed reserved for ex-boss O’Donnell who received his second yellow of the evening for trying to retrieve the ball quickly for his side, and having been booked earlier in the evening for his complaints, referee Rob Hennessy sent him to the stands.

Tim Clancy’s troops turn their attention to a massive home game with NS Mura next Thursday, while Dundalk host Finn Harps next.

St. Patrick’s Athletic: Joseph Anang, Joe Redmond, Tom Grivosti, Chris Forrester (Jamie Lennon, 86’), Eoin Doyle, Harry Brockbank, Mark Doyle, Billy King (Tunde Owolabi, 69’), Adam O’Reilly, Ben McCormack (Serge Atakayi, 60’), Anto Breslin

Dundalk FC: Peter Cherrie, Lewis Macari (Steven Bradley, 59’), Andy Boyle, Mark Connolly, Sam Bone (Paul Doyle, 65’), Daniel Kelly, Robbie Benson (Joe Adams, 87’), Pat Hoban, Greg Sloggett, Darragh Leahy (Mark Hanratty, 87’), Keith Ward (John Martin, 65’)

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