VINNY FAHERTY hit a hat-trick as five-star St Patrick's Athletic moved a step closer towards European football for 2013 by crushing UCD at Richmond Park.
The Saints were short six of their normal starting line-up, including attacking duo Sean O'Connor and Christy Fagan, through either injury or suspension, and their fringe players certainly took a while settling into the contest, as Michael Leahy went close for UCD early on.
Pat's eventually settled into their groove, though, and Jake Kelly was on hand to open the scoring on 16 minutes, finishing coolly into the bottom left-hand corner of Ger Barron's goal from a tight angle on the right following excellent approach play by Ger O'Brien.
Anthony Flood found the former Bray man in an identical position just two minutes later, but the inside of the post came to the Students' rescue on this occasion.
Christopher Forrester then went close with an audacious lob from distance that was held firmly by Barron and, although Pat's controlled the play for the rest of the first half, David McMillan went close twice for the visitors.
Pat's upped the ante after the break, though, and they doubled their lead 13 minutes in when Flood found the onrushing Faherty, who finished past the helpless Barron with aplomb.
This goal effectively killed off the game, but the Saints piled on the agony for the Students with further goals from Faherty and Flood in the 66th and 72nd minutes, the former coming after a delightful chip by Forrester had come crashing off the woodwork.
Faherty ensured that he went home with the match ball when his clinical finish with five minutes remaining completed the rout.
ST PATRICK'S ATHLETIC -- Murphy; O'Brien, Browne, Price, Bermingham; Forrester, Coombes (Boyne 81), Carroll; Faherty, Flood (O'Flynn 81), J Kelly (D Kelly 73).
UCD -- Barron; Douglas (Lyons 61), Leahy, O'Connor, Nangle; Clarke (Mulhall 61), O'Conor, McCabe (Kavanagh 61), Ledwith; Benson; McMillan.
REF -- T Connolly (Dublin).