Conor Carty’s late strike condemned Dundalk to their sixth defeat of the season as ten-man St Patrick’s Athletic marked Jon Daly’s first game as permanent manager with a win at Richmond Park.
With the likes of Darragh Leahy, Louie Annesley, Greg Sloggett and Rayhaan Tulloch all named on the bench, Dundalk head coach Stephen O’Donnell was able to name one of his strongest matchday squads of the campaign.
It was the hosts, though, that started brightly with Nathan Shepperd saving from Tom Grivosti and Mark Doyle inside the opening 15 minutes. Hayden Muller then had to get across to stop a threatening run from Jake Mulraney.
Dundalk took time to get going and they were thankful for Paul Doyle’s intervention in the 26th minute when he somehow diverted Adam Murphy’s goalbound attempt onto the bar after the midfielder had rounded Shepperd.
The Lilywhites weren’t as fortunate four minutes later. Mulraney’s clipped delivery from the right was palmed away by Shepperd but it fell straight to Mark Doyle who took full advantage to tap the ball home.
Dundalk were let off the hook shortly after when Mark Doyle got in on the left but his ball across the six-yard box was just too high for Eoin Doyle who had the goal at his mercy.
The visitors started to come to life towards the end of the half and Patrick Hoban was denied by a stunning point-blank save from Dean Lyness after he pinched the ball off Grivosti in the Pat’s penalty area.
Robbie McCourt then let fly with a half-volley on the edge of the box in stoppage time but it whistled past the post and the natives went into the break holding the advantage.
HT: St Patrick’s Athletic 1-0 Dundalk FC
O’Donnell reacted by making a triple substitution with Alfie Lewis, Keith Ward and Rayhaan Tulloch all introduced for Doyle, Johannes Yli-Kokko and John Martin at the break.
And the move had the desired effect as Dundalk pulled level just three minutes after the restart when McCourt picked out Tulloch in the six-yard box and he made no mistake with a close-range header.
Things threatened to spill over five minutes later after a bout of handbags between Mulraney and Connor Malley sparked a fracas on the far side of the ground. When things settled down, Mulraney was dismissed by referee Ray Matthews with a yellow brandished in Malley’s direction.
Dundalk tried to capitalise on the numerical advantage and Muller saw an effort deflected over the top by Jamie Lennon but it proved to be a rare occurrence and the travelling supporters were left stunned in the 80th minute.
Substitute Tommy Lonergan wrestled control of the ball from Muller in the Dundalk penalty area and his pass across the face of the goal was lashed home from a narrow-angle, via the underside of the crossbar, by Carty.
Five additional minutes were added and Cameron Elliott and Keith Ward both had sightings of an equaliser but Pat’s held on to move three points clear of the Lilywhites, who remain in fifth place.
FT: St Patrick’s Athletic 2-1 Dundalk FC
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Dean Lyness, Carl Sjoberg (Jake McGrath 7), Sam Curtis, Tom Grivosti (Jason McClelland 43), Anto Breslin, Jamie Lennon, Adam Murphy (Conor Carty 61), Jake Mulraney, Chris Forrester, Mark Doyle (Ben McCormack 61), Eoin Doyle (Thomas Lonergan 61). Subs not used: Serge Atakayi, Vladislav Kreida, Thijs Timmermans, David Odumosu (GK).
DUNDALK FC: Nathan Shepperd, Archie Davies, Hayden Muller, Wasiri Williams (Darragh Leahy 78), Robbie McCourt (Cameron Elliott 78), Johannes Yli-Kokko (Keith Ward HT), Paul Doyle (Alfie Lewis HT), John Martin (Rayhaan Tulloch HT), Connor Malley, Ryan O’Kane, Patrick Hoban. Subs not used: Louie Annesley, Daniel Kelly, Greg Sloggett, Peter Cherrie (GK).
REFEREE: Ray Matthews.