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Fagan pulls the strings in Saints rout of Shelbourne

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Christy Fagan, left, St. Patrick’s Athletic, celebrates with team-mate Ian Bermingham after scoring his side's first goal, Shelbourne

Christy Fagan, left, St. Patrick’s Athletic, celebrates with team-mate Ian Bermingham after scoring his side's first goal, Shelbourne

Christy Fagan, left, St. Patrick’s Athletic, celebrates with team-mate Ian Bermingham after scoring his side's first goal, Shelbourne

It was a satisfying night for St Patrick's Athletic, who trotted away from Tolka Park and back across the capital having pocketed the full complement of spoils.

Sluggish initially, Liam Buckley's charges eventually made their more liberal sprinkling of better footballers count as they ruthlessly punished Shelbourne. Alan Mathews' departure from Shelbourne dominated the pre-match discussions with Kevin Doherty taking charge last night, but the locals still ended the night seriously pondering their survival prospects at the end of another comprehensive loss.

Apart from Shelbourne's energy and enthusiasm in the opening quarter the first half was surprisingly tame, but once the tempo quickened the hosts couldn't deal with Christy Fagan's clinical efficiency.

Early on, chances were scarce during Shels' encouraging start Sean Brennan fizzed a 15th-minute chance wide following a clever move involving Stephen Sheerin and Craig Mooney.

With Pat Flynn providing bite and bark in the centre of the park for Shels, the visitors weren't able to stitch their usual passing game together even if they manufactured a few opportunities as the interval approached.

Ger O'Brien curled an effort wide and Chris Forrester headed a John Russell cross over under pressure, but by the time the break rolled around the teams were deadlocked. Shels were clearly more content, and the Saints departed aware that significant improvement was necessary.

Busier and brighter Pat's seized the initiative in the 53rd minute grabbing a goal that was all about Fagan's guile. Ian Bermingham's left-wing delivery was splendid and so was Fagan's nifty header.

Suddenly Pat's were in the groove and a second goal was filched on 59 when Fagan slammed home the rebound after Shels' custodian Ger Hanley had saved from Killian Brennan following a Russell centre.

Brennan's corner with 13 minutes remaining was bundled over the line by Forrester and Shels' woes were compounded when Jack Memery was dismissed on 79 for a high challenge on O'Brien. The evidence here suggested that these two proud clubs are rapidly moving in opposite directions.

Shelbourne – Hanley; Cornwall, Ryan, Gartland, Memery; Mooney (Kelly, 70), Sheerin, Flynn, Prizeman (Tinnelly, 77); Brennan; Leech (Hughes, 60).

St Patrick's Athletic – Clarke; O'Brien, Kenna, Browne, Bermingham; Bolger (McFaul, 82); Byrne (Kelly, 71), Russell, Brennan, Forrester (Murphy, 77); Fagan.

Ref – A Buttimer (Cork).

Irish Independent