Clarke's late heroics deny Cork victory
St Patrick's Ath 0 Cork City 0
A tale of frustration for both sides at Inchicore, where the hosts enjoyed enough possession to feel they deserved the three points and yet had to rely on a penalty save from Brendan Clarke to ensure a draw.
The home 'keeper saved Tadhg Purcell's tame 79th-minute strike after the Cork frontman was felled by Kenny Browne.
From there on, the Leesiders were pegged back into the final third, and knuckled down to survive a frenetic conclusion. They will understandably feel that their endeavour was worthy of a point.
Ireland U-21 manager Noel King was present to have a look at young St Patrick's Athletic star Chris Forrester, the gifted Dubliner who is on standby for the upcoming internationals at that level.
The talented midfielder is causing quite a stir, and is now operating in a central playmaking role in the absence of James Chambers.
It took him a while to warm into this game but, when he did, the former Belvedere player provided the most exciting moments of the first half.
He took aim from distance on three occasions, coming particularly close with a right-footed free that was inches over before cutting onto his left side and testing Mark McNulty with a powerful attempt.
Still, the clearest opportunity of the first half fell to the visitors, with Cork's Daryl Horgan opening up gaps with a purposeful run and then laying the ball on a plate for Purcell, who should have done better than a weak effort into the hands of Clarke; a dress rehearsal for later on.
There was further wastefulness from the green shirts after the resumption and, again, it went slightly against the general pattern.
Horgan, another player with a promising future, burst into the Saints half with intent and his pass eventually made its way to Vinny Sullivan, whose shot went the wrong side of the post under minimal pressure.
Tommy Dunne's team competed well in the physical exchanges, with his wingers, Horgan and Davin O'Neill, tucking in when necessary to stifle the Saints' midfield three.
Forrester was given closer attention as it descended into a scrappy and congested affair that almost bubbled over when the hosts' Pat Flynn felled Gearoid Morrissey with a ferocious challenge and Sullivan rushed in to defend his team-mate with misplaced studs.
That incident succeeded in sparking the game to life, with Purcell smacking the bar with a rasper that bounced down in a manner that had some Corkmen convinced it had crossed the line.
But there was little time to dwell on it as Saints' Sean O'Connor called McNulty into action.
And then Forrester fluffed a straightforward chance, failing to negotiate a way past the Cork 'keeper when he advanced into a threatening position.
He really should have scored, and his colleague, left-full Ian Bermingham, struck the post from a more difficult angle in a thrilling period as the game entered its final 15 minutes.
Then came the spot kick, and the moment Purcell will want to forget. His pain would have been more intense if new arrival Jake Carroll had shown conviction from close range at the death.
St Patrick's Athletic -- Clarke; O'Brien, Kenna, Browne, Bermingham; Flynn, Russell, Forrester; Kelly (O'Connor 63), Meenan (Carroll 83); Fagan (Daly 71).
Cork City -- McNulty; Healy, Spillane, Dunleavy, Murphy; Horgan, Morrissey, Duggan, O'Neill ; Sullivan, Purcell.
REF -- P McLaughlin (Monaghan).
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