Eoin Doyle celebrates the winning goal. Evan Treacy/INPHO
Dublin Derby

Hull City owner sparks talk of shock Shels investment as Eoin Doyle earns Pat's derby win

The Hull owner had been expected to invest in Dundalk but attended tonight’s Dublin derby with Shelbourne chairman Andrew Doyle.

St Patrick’s Athletic 1 

Shelbourne 0 

THE RICHMOND PARK Director’s Box remains a theatre of much drama in the clashes of St Pat’s and Shelbourne. 

It was true for one of last year’s games and true again for much of tonight’s high-octane but largely low-quality victory for Pat’s, secured against the flow of the second half with Eoin Doyle’s opportunistic strike in the penalty area. 

Last year Damien Duff served a touchline ban here as an agitated, remonstrative figure beside Shels’ chairman Andrew Doyle but tonight he was back on touchline with another figure beside Doyle turning heads in the press box: Hull City owner Acun Ilicali.

Ilicali – the Turkish Simon Cowell in media shorthand – made his fortune in television and having bought Hull City last year, has been seeking a second investment in football. 

“My idea is actually to buy another team that can help us to improve our young talents”, he told a Hull fans’ forum last year.  “If I can manage this, I want to buy a team that will help our young guys, plus some more young guys in a proper league with tough games so they can improve and help us to go to the higher levels.” 

It was expected Ilicali would invest in Dundalk – the club today wrote to supporters to dampen down talk of a done deal emanating from Hull – but his presence beside Doyle tonight has stirred speculation he will put his money into Shels instead. That, or he rocked up to Inchicore to put a bit of pressure on Dundalk’s negotiating team. 

Shels, like Dundalk, have actively sought outside investment of late, with a proposed deal with Southampton owners Sport Republic fizzling to nothing. 

Duff lamented the non-completion of that deal, saying it would have quadrupled his budget for this season. On the basis of performances like tonight’s, Shels fans would be justifiably excited at the prospect of being able to afford to build on the sturdy base Duff has built: they frustrated Pat’s in the first half and then dominated them for most of the second half while lacking the quality to punish them. Doyle’s winning goal seven minutes from the end was a scarcely-deserved sucker punch. 

Pat’s hogged possession throughout the first half but created little, with the diligent pair of  Mark Coyle and JJ Lunney swamping the middle of the pitch. Pat’s meagre offerings from the first half came down the flanks, with Chris Forrester cutting inside and stinging Conor Kearns’ palms with an early shot from range. Jake Mulraney meanwhile, got a little more joy when he swapped to the right. He has electric pace and Tyreke Wilson learned this fact as the first-half drew to a close, forced to foul Mulraney as he surged clear. Wilson picked up a yellow and Pat’s almost the opening goal, the second phase of the free-kick steered goalwards by Noah Lewis but cleared off the line by Paddy Barrett.  

Shels grew confident as the second half drew on, sparked to another tempo by the introduction of Shane Farrell just before the hour mark. Their dominance wasn’t exchanged for chances however, with goalkeeper David Odomusu largely underworked. Evan Caffrey turned and snapped a penalty-box shot over the bar, while the excellent Noah Lewis spared Jamie Lennon’s blushes when his loose pass was pounced upon by Matty Smith. 

pats-fans-ahead-of-the-game St Pat's fans ahead of the game. Evan Treacy / INPHO Evan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

Shels’ honest toil drew frustration from the home ground, with Richmond Park growing irritable with Pat’s desultory passing. But Tim Clancy had a luxury Duff did not and sprang Eoin Doyle from the bench and it was the former Bolton striker who made the difference. Shels half-cleared a corner to the worst possible spot in the box: precisely where Doyle was standing. He snapped the ball into the corner to wash away the ground’s frustration in a moment. 

Shels kept up the pressure and came agonisingly close to equalising, but Paddy Barrett saw his header bounce off the top of the crossbar. It would have been a point they deserved – but didn’t get.   

St Patrick’s Athletic: David Odumosu; Sam Curtis, Noah Lewis, Joe Redmond (captain), Anto Breslin; Vladislav Kreida, Jamie Lennon; Jake Mulraney (Ben McCormack, 73′), Chris Forrester (Conor Carty, 82′), Serge Atakayi (Mark Doyle, 58′); Thomas Lonergan (Eoin Doyle, 58′)

Shelbourne: Conor Kearns; Paddy Barrett, Luke Byrne (captain), Gavin Molloy; JR Wilson; Mark Coyle (Kian Leavy, 77′) JJ Lunney; Tyreke Wilson (Kameron Ledwidge, 58′); Matty Smith, Jack Moylan (Shane Farrell, 58′), Evan Caffrey 

Referee: Neil Doyle 

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