Fagan fires Saints to derby spoils
St Pat's Ath 3 Bohemians 1
Liam Buckley must be wondering how different St Patrick's Athletic's season would be looking had Christy Fagan been fit for all 16 games.
The striker missed a crucial six-week period with a knee injury but his double at Richmond Park last night served a reminder, not only of the quality that he possesses but also of how much more dangerous Pat's are with him leading the line.
Fagan scored his second and third goals in nine league games and Buckley will no doubt be relieved to have last season's top scorer back firing and looking sharp.
Hinder Fagan's opposite number, Ismahil Akinade, was booed by a section of the home supporters every time he touched the ball but it didn't hinder what was a good performance on his second appearance for his new club.
Derek Prendergast had cancelled out Fagan's 22nd-minute moment of magic but Pat's roared back to claim a precious three points that brings them level on points with Bohs.
Killian Brennan and James Chambers were both off target with early Saints attempts before Robbie Creevy had what looked like a legitimate penalty claim turned down by the referee.
Pat's assumed control and after Aaron Greene picked out Fagan with an inch-perfect cross, it was all about the brilliance of the striker.
He took a touch before looping an exquisite overhead kick into the top corner of the outstretched Dean Delany's net.
The goal in truth livened up what was a dull opening quarter of a game that rarely felt like a Dublin derby.
Friday night's clash between Bohs and Shamrock Rovers is sure to be a bit more heated but Keith Long will have been concerned by his players' lack of urgency.
A win over Dundalk last time out had rightly raised Bohs supporters' expectations against a Pat's side who have struggled for consistency all season.
Fagan almost doubled his side's lead after being played through by Chris Forrester, but he dragged his shot wide.
The visitors punished that miss shortly after the half-hour mark and again it was Akinade who caused problems for the Saints defence.
The bustling striker held off Kenny Browne before forcing a corner. Lorcan Fitzgerald's set-piece found the unmarked Prendergast and from inside the six-yard box, he powered a header past Brendan Clarke.
Bohs lost Creevy to a groin injury midway through the opening half, which makes him a major doubt for their second derby in four days.
Both sides had chances to take the lead before the break. Adam Evans shot straight at Clarke before Forrester could only head the ball straight at the 'keeper after an excellent Pat's move.
The hosts had no such problem five minutes after the restart and this time, it was a move straight off the training pitch.
Ian Bermingham met Brennan's corner with a first time volley that was on target and Fagan had the awareness to flick it into the back of the net.
Pat's had a great chance to seal all three points 15 minutes later but Delany pulled off a brilliant save to deny Aaron Greene who was played through one-on-one by Forrester.
The Pat's fans have seen their side relinquish leads at home already this season so when Brennan did eventually add a third, the relief around Inchicore was palpable. Forrester was fouled on the edge of the area and Brennan, who had an early sighter, clipped a delightful free-kick into the top corner.
Long emptied his bench and pitted Dean Kelly and Jason Byrne up front with Akinade but the trio couldn't muster what would have been an unlikely and undeserved share of the spoils.
Bohs' attention will quickly turn to Rovers on Friday but a repeat of last night's lethargic display would spell a second derby defeat in four days, leaving last week's win over the defending champions as a pale and distant memory.
St Patrick's Athletic - Clarke; O'Brien (c) (Desmond 60), Hoare, Browne, Bermingham; Bolger, Chambers, Brennan (McCormack 78); Greene, Fagan (McGrath 75), Forrester.
Bohemians - Delaney; Fitzgerald, Prendergast, Lopes (c), Hayes (Kelly 69); Creevy (O'Brien 29), Dillon, Buckley; Evans, Akinade, Moore (Byrne 75).
Ref - P Sutton (Clare)