Buckley fumes at Fahey's dismissal
Shamrock Rovers 2 St Patrick's Ath 1
AS the rain began to descend on Tallaght Stadium, so too did the red mist as both Irish internationals on show were given their marching orders in what was a fiery game.
Seven minutes after Rovers had regained the lead, Stephen McPhail was sent off for a mindless head-butt on Killian Brennan, who appeared to say something to the former Irish international.
Then, as the momentum appeared to swing back in Pat's favour, Keith Fahey followed McPhail down the tunnel with a quarter of an hour remaining after he pushed Robert Cornwall to the ground.
Referee Padraig Sutton was the centre of attention afterwards, but it was difficult to disagree with either decision.
That's not how Pat's manager Liam Buckley saw it, however. "Their player had to go – he's head-butted our lad. It's nonsense from their end," said Buckley after seeing his side fall to their third defeat of the season.
"Our one, well, have a look at it on the TV. Bearing in mind the amount of tackles that Keith suffered in the first half – you can count the amount of free-kicks yourself.
"You see tackles in the World Cup and here, but if you're telling me pushing someone like that is worth a red card... God be with the days when you could make a proper tackle.
"If Keith gets a three-game ban for pushing someone like that, there's something wrong with the system here. He'll get an automatic one-match ban and for anybody with a bit of sense that would be about it."
Rovers manager Trevor Croly took a more withdrawn stance and was understandably more concerned with the fact that his side had just beaten the reigning champions to leapfrog them into third place.
"I didn't see it so I need to go have a look at it and then I can have an opinion," he said of McPhail's red card. I didn't speak with Stephen. We'll deal with it tomorrow. Sometimes you're best off letting the steam out of situations."
As for the significance of the result, Croly added: "It's just three points. We've got to go again next week. We wanted to win this game to get closer to the top."
The Hoops wasted little time in picking up where they left off against UCD last week and, with Ronan Finn finding plenty of space in the middle of midfield, Rovers looked threatening going forward.
It was no surprise that the in-form Simon Madden was the creator of their opening goal.
The game was barely two minutes old when McPhail played the ball out wide to the full-back and his terrific cross was expertly dispatched by Dean Kelly for his second goal in two games.
Rovers' early good work was undone just eight minutes later when Christy Fagan, the league's top scorer, poked home his 16th goal of the season on his 100th appearance for the Saints.
Conan Byrne swung the ball in from the right flank and Fagan nipped in front of the flat-footed Jason McGuinness to score.
Rovers began the second-half confidently – just like the first – and regained the lead on 52 minutes when Gary McCabe's 20-yard shot took a wicked deflection off a Pat's defender and looped over the despairing dive of Brendan Clarke, who could only get a hand to it.
Then came a bizarre 15-minute spell in which McPhail and Fahey both saw red. And there was still time for some more drama.
As the clock ticked into the final minute, former Rovers striker Mark Quigley crashed a header off the crossbar and Byrne somehow failed to score from the rebound as his headed effort also came back off the woodwork.
Brendan Clarke then pulled off a wonder save from Rovers substitute Robert Bayly who should have scored, but his blushes were spared as the final whistle was blown seconds after.
Shamrock Rovers – Murphy; Madden (Kilduff 79), Kenna (capt), McGuinness, Cornwall; McPhail, Robinson, Finn, McCabe (Bayly 90); Kelly, Zayed (Brennan 63).
St Pat's ATH – Clarke; McCormack, Browne, Foran, Bermingham (capt); Fahey, Chambers (Quigley 68), Byrne, Brennan; Forrester (Bolger 79), Fagan (Kavanagh 84).
REF – P Sutton (Clare)
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