Cash breaks Dundalk's resistance in frantic clash
St Pat's 1
QUITE a cup night in Oriel. Three Dundalk players ordered off, in addition to a panda and a pensioner. And the locals still came within seconds of forcing a replay until Saints sub Brian Cash finally found a way past the superb Peter Cherrie.
The complexion of this tie changed dramatically in the five minutes before the interval when Lilywhites pair Ciaran McGuigan and JJ Melligan were dismissed for wildly varying reasons by referee Anthony Buttimer -- the first for a rash challenge, the second for gesturing in the direction of visiting fans.
St Pat's, so desperate to end a cup famine that stretches back to 1961, struggled to press home their advantage and with the siege mentality in Louth hardening at the perceived injustice, Ian Foster's side regrouped to hold out with Scotsman Cherrie pitching in with a few top-drawer saves.
Alas, Cash struck at the death, before Garry Breen became the third home player to be dismissed for another off-the-ball incident, although Foster later said he had no complaints about the dismissals of Melligan or Breen.
The league meetings between these sides thus far in this campaign had been feisty affairs, and this game started at the same frenzied pace.
Both could have scored in the opening five minutes, with Saints striker Alex Williams, formerly of this parish, cracking the woodwork before Breen fluffed his lines at the other end with the usually watertight Saints defence in a muddle.
As the half developed, however, the tempo dropped. Buttimer was in authoritarian mood. Melligan and Ryan Guy both received yellow cards for what the Cork official deemed to be diving.
The no-nonsense approach extended to the sideline, with a steward dismissing the Dundalk mascot -- Lily the Panda -- whose brand of dancing was obviously in breach of regulations.
The standard of play deteriorated as the interval approached, before events took a dramatic turn with two Dundalk men ordered off in quick succession. First, young Dundalk full-back McGuigan was given a straight red for a two-footed challenge on Ian Bermingham.
But it was the second dismissal which enraged the Oriel faithful. Linesman Marc Douglas, situated directly in front of the St Pat's fans, called over Buttimer, who quickly went for the back pocket to prematurely end Dundalk playmaker Melligan's participation, for a gesture towards the travelling fans.
Of course, when this pair met at Richmond Park last month, the Saints were a man down for the majority and still won the game. There are few cliches related to the difficulty of playing against nine men, though.
Unsurprisingly, the Dubliners dominated. Williams was narrowly off target, before Conor Kenna struck the crossbar. Meanwhile, the stewards restored parity with Buttimer in the ejection stakes by marching an angry pensioner down the tunnel.
Inevitably, Dundalk began defending deeper with Mahon introducing an extra winger and raining crosses into the box. From one such delivery, Williams connected with a fine header that Cherrie brilliantly clawed away, earning a pat of admiration from his former team-mate.
The imposing Paul Byrne was introduced, with the game taking on the form of an attackers versus defenders training drill. However, the Saints lacked innovation and frequently resorted to pot shots. Cherrie collected every cross in his general direction and called in a favour from the woodwork when Guy struck the post from distance.
He had no such luck when the ball bobbled around the area into the direction of Cash, who finished clinically.
Dundalk -- Cherrie, McGuigan, Miller, Breen, Hatswell; McGowan (Kelly 60), Cawley, Maher, Melligan, Gaynor; Kuduzovic (Mulvenna 83).
St Patrick's Athletic -- Rogers; Lynch (Haverty 90), Kenna, Guthrie, Bermingham (Cash 50); Guy, Byrne, Mulcahy, Doyle; Williams (Byrne 71), Faherty.
Ref -- A Buttimer (Cork).