Superb Fahey strikes earns silverware for St pat's
St Pat's 1 Sligo Rovers 0
Sometimes in football, it is better to believe your eyes rather than your ears. So, while Martin O'Neill was typically generous in his assessment of the President's Cup final, the truth is not as kind as the Irish manager's words.
For this was a day when a heavy pitch partially explained the even heavier touches – but also one which left both teams looking in danger of an upset next Friday when the real action begins, Pat's travelling south to Cork, Sligo hosting Athlone.
At the very least, they each need to step up a gear, while, in Sligo's case, their admirable, but over-ambitious attempts to build from the back may require a policy check.
It could have cost them dearly – particularly when Chris Forrester intercepted a Danny Ledwith pass, a chance which was squandered. So, unless quality of movement is matched by a higher standard of passing, the practice won't work.
Joseph Ndo, their veteran midfielder, was at the heart of the action, guarding possession with an efficiency that was lacking elsewhere.
Keith Fahey justified the hype, delivering a brilliant display for Pat's, highlighted by a superbly executed first-half goal.
While 18 months out with injury adds rust to anyone's engine – if Fahey still has the motivation to rough it in less salubrious surroundings than what he has become used to, then he and St Pat's will have a big season.
Sligo can have a good year, too. Yes, they were below par, but their new signing, Eric Odhiambo played well in the split-striker role, linking well with Danny North – a combin- ation which nearly led to Sligo going ahead in the 14th minute.
North, however, shot narrowly wide. And six minutes later Fahey found the net with a brilliant 25-yard volley, one which brought the 1,300 crowd – which included President Michael D Higgins, O'Neill and Roy Keane, to their feet.
"It was a fantastic goal – really great strike," said O'Neill. "And do you know, it was a really enjoyable game, with two teams trying to play good football."
Pat's could have doubled their lead when Christy Fagan had a goal disallowed for offside and when another Fahey shot was blocked by Jeff Henderson.
At the other end, North again came close – as did John Russell. But Pat's held on to claim the inaugural President's Cup, a trophy which won't define anyone's season but was still one which both teams showed a hunger to win.
St Pat's Ath – Clarke; O'Brien, Oman, Browne, Bermingham; Fahey (Lynch 88), Brennan, Bolger; Byrne, Fagan (Quigley 88), Forrester (Kavanagh 73).
Sligo Rvs – Brush; Keane, McMillan, Henderson, Ledwith; Ndo (Cretaro 62), Cawley (Conneely 81), Russell (O'Conor 62), Greene; Odhiambo; North.
Ref – P McLaughlin (Monaghan)