Evan Caffrey (front) after his winner. Laszlo Geczo/INPHO
nicked it

Dramatic 96th-minute winner sees Shelbourne stun St Patrick's Athletic

Evan Caffrey delivered stunning moment to give Damien Duff 2-1 victory over old boss Stephen Kenny.

St Patrick’s Athletic 1

Shelbourne 2

MORE OF THIS, please.

Shelbourne will definitely hope these are the sounds of the summer.

Evan Caffrey struck a 96th-minute winner for the Premier Division league leaders as they took all three points in a stunning snatch and grab to leave St Patrick’s Athletic and their manager, Stephen Kenny, shell shocked.

The new Saints boss stood by his dugout almost in a daze to see his players off the pitch after full-time.

Damien Duff, his former assistant with the Republic of Ireland, and now aiming to deliver a League of Ireland title, had been quick to sprint down the steps to the away dressing room.

He did shake his old boss’s hand before doing so and just seconds earlier was chest thumping in front of the St Pat’s dugout in a moment of pure elation.

The Shels goalkeeping coach, Paul Skinner, was shown a red card for his part in the celebrations as things threatened to boil over at a point when it seemed as though Jake Mulraney’s superb free kick to cancel out Sean Boyd’s early header would see these Dublin derby spoils shared.

But not so.

Three of Duff’s substitutes combined; Dean Williams and Tyreke Wilson keeping the chance alive and Caffrey then working the half yard of space in the box to find the far corner.

The roar from the away end was instant.

A lit flare was chucked from that direction and landed between two Pat’s players, so more punishment from the FAI will no doubt come their way, but this was a night Shels can celebrate maintaining their place at the top of the table in the most dramatic of circumstances.

Not that anyone at Tolka Park would need their belief reinforced, but nights like this and wins like this are special for so many reasons.

The Shels opener on 14 minutes was a clear example of the work Kenny has to do and the foundations that have been firmly set in place by Duff over the last two and a half years.

John O’Sullivan won a ball on the right side of the pitch and laid it to Mark Coyle in the middle. He kept it moving to Cameron Ledwidge advancing and the left back strode into the Pat’s final with a purpose and intensity that the covering Brandon Kavanagh couldn’t match.

His simple lay off for Will Jarvis on the left made the winger’s mind up to cross first time, and Boyd was waiting at the back post to tower over Anto Breslin.

The striker had fired a tame shot low into the hands of Danny Rogers after just five minutes when Coyle robbed Kian Leavy on the edge of the area but this time his header was powerful and precise.

In the moments that mattered Shels had more about them.

There were no more goals in the opening half and precious few chances of note but both sides could easily have had a man sent off.

Jamie Lennon was shown a yellow card for a late tackle on O’Sullivan after 19 minutes and his stray elbow later left Jarvis’ cheek bruised and bloodied.

It forced the Shels winger off – replaced by JJ Lunney on 32 minutes – and Duff rejigged things slightly.

He might have had to do so again had O’Sullivan’s stoods-up lunge on Leavy resulted in a straight red rather than a yellow in first-half injury time.

stephen-kenny-during-the-game Stephen Kenny (left) and Damien Duff (background, right) Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

Kenny was forced to alter his back line when Conor Keeley came on for Breslin at the start of the second period and some confusion in the box from a set-piece almost led to O’Sullivan doubling the visitors’ lead with two snatched attempts inside the area.

With the home side looking laboured and struggling for any kind of impetus they turned to youth off the bench. The 16-year-old Mason Melia dropped into a central position behind Ruairi Keating in place of Leavy while 21-year-old Alex Nolan was a straight swap for Brandon Kavanagh on the right.

Shels still looked comfortable, though, and as well as getting his goal Boyd was also providing a useful outlet.

And they almost put the game to bed on 68 minutes with a sharp counter attack. Coyle broke with the ball after winning possession from Chris Forrester on the edge of the box. The Shels captain switched the play on the run to the right for Caffrey galloping towards the opposite penalty area.

His low cross was driven to the back post where Liam Burt connected with an outstretched boot but couldn’t direct it on target.

The tempo was rising heading into the final quarter with Ryan McLaughlin taking a yellow for Pat’s to halt a counter attack and Coyle doing the same when Melia headed towards goal after receiving on the half turn.

That foul proved costly straight as Mulraney stepped up to fizz a pin-point effort over the four-man wall and into the top left corner leaving Conor Kearns rooted to the spot.

Pat’s had their second wind but couldn’t get that second goal to really give the Kenny era lift off.

And it felt even flatter when Caffrey produced his moment of magic at the end of a breathless battle.

St Patrick’s Athletic: Rogers; McLaughlin (Freeman 88), Redmond (captain), Turner, Breslin (Keeley HT); B Kavanagh (Melia 63), Lennon, Forrester, Leavy (Nolan 63), Mulraney; Keating (C Kavanagh 88).

Shelbourne: Kearns; Gannon, Barrett, Molloy, Ledwidge; Burt (Wilson 75), Coyle (captain), O’Sullivan (Caffrey 60), Smith (Williams 75), Jarvis (Lunney 32); Boyd.

Referee: R Hennesy

Attendance: 4,811

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