Buckley warning for sloppy Saints
St Patrick's Athletic 3-2 Cobh Ramblers
Lucky St Patrick's Athletic booked their place in the semi-final of the FAI Cup at the expense of Cobh Ramblers on Saturday, but manager Liam Buckley knows better than anyone else that they will have to play much better if they are to reach the final, or beat Limerick in the EA Sports Cup decider next Saturday.
Leading 3-0 at half-time, St Pat's allowed Cobh to work their way back into the game at Richmond Park with goals from Connor Ellis and Rob Lehane and the first division outfit could have even forced a replay with a bit more luck.
"We played well (in the first-half) without it being fantastic. We were three up and we had one or two other chances. I'm pleased with that - it's just our defending was so poor in the second-half," said Buckley.
"As I said to the lads, our second-half performance will win us nothing - league matches, or cup matches, or whatever. We will fundamentally need to be a lot better than that if we are to beat Limerick in the League Cup final.
"After that we're obviously going to have Dundalk, Cork or Derry in the semi-finals of the FAI Cup."
St Pat's broke the deadlock in the 15th minute when Christy Fagan headed home a delivery by centre-half Sean Hoare.
This proved to be the catalyst for the Saints to take complete control.
Jamie McGrath made it 2-0 six minutes later and Billy Dennehy's 37th-minute finish appeared to put the outcome beyond any doubt.
However, the Saints sleepwalked their way out at the start of the second-half and Cobh got just the boost they needed when substitute Ellis cooly converted a penalty four minutes after the break.
St Pat's didn't heed the warning and Cobh gave themselves a fighting chance just beyond the hour mark when Lehane found the net with a superb, left-footed effort.
This set up a nerve-racking conclusion for Pat's and Lee Desmond denied the visitors a replay when he cleared a spectacular Kevin Mulcahy effort off the line on 88 minutes.
Cobh manager Stephen Henderson was left frustrated by the concession of three first-half goals, but with a crunch First Division clash coming up against UCD next Friday he was keen to concentrate on the positives of their second-half display.
"I'd rather focus more on the second-half obviously, because I thought we were brilliant. With (Garry) Comerford and (Shane) O'Connor in there, we got a bit more adventurous going forward," Henderson said.
"We actually said at half-time, 'these boys will probably think the game is over, 3-0 down'.
"We went 20 yards further up the pitch to try and win the ball back off them and it worked, because they started making mistakes," he added.
ST PATRICK'S ATHLETIC: Clarke; O'Brien (Feely 67), Hoare, Barker, Bermingham; Desmond, Kelly; Byrne, McGrath (Lunney 41), Dennehy; Fagan.
COBH RAMBLERS: Hunt; Flemming, O'Riordan, McCarthy, Mulcahy, Mylod; Christopher (G Comerford h-t), O'Connor, McGreevey (McNamara 79); Lehane, Creamer (Ellis h-t).
REF: S Grant (Wexford).