Forrester and Burns on the mark as St Pat’s top table

by Stephen Findlater

League of Ireland PREMIER DIVISION

ST PATRICK’S Athletic top the Premier Division table following a handsome 2-0 victory over Derry City at Richmond Park on Friday evening.

Goals from Robbie Benson and substitute Darragh Burns’s first senior goal saw the Inchicore side to a deserved victory as they continued their unbeaten start to the season.

Stephen O’Donnell’s Saints were full value for their third win on the bounce, following an opening day draw away to Shamrock Rovers.

“We knew coming into the game Derry were off the back of a couple of poor results, but they’re a very good team with very good players,” said O’Donnell.

“The sending-off changed the whole dynamic of the game and it was a professional performance from us then in the second half.

“Once you go one up, it takes a bit of the pressure off and Derry sort of lose a bit of hope at 1-0 down and down to ten men, so we did that well and played decent stuff.”

Burns, who is currently studying for his Leaving Cert, was buzzing after having only made his first league start against Bohemians a week earlier.

“[Derry] seems to be my lucky team – this time last year I made my debut in a 2-0 defeat, so it was good to get one up on them.

“And to get my first goal – I’m sure my family is bursting with pride at home so it’s a proud moment.

“I’m just a normal lad with my Leaving Cert trying to juggle everything, but I’ll just try and keep focus and do my best.”

The Athletic sit joint-top with surprise package Finn Harps on ten points after four games, two points clear of champions Rovers and Sligo Rovers, who drew at the Showground on Saturday.

Pats initially struggled to cope with an aggressive Derry side, who arrived in Dublin on the back of disappointing defeats to Longford Town and Waterford in their opening games.

The Candystripes pressed high up the field, utilising an oppressive 3-5-2 formation, but crumbled when defender Danny Lupano was dismissed after the half hour.

It was a mere formality for the Chris Forrester-inspired Saints from then on, though they did have to wait until the hour mark to make their breakthrough.

The Athletic eventually took the lead as Ronan Coughlan’s foray into the box, dribbling past two Derry defenders, saw the ball break kindly for Benson.

Ten minutes later, it was game over as a fine 50-yard through-ball from defender Sam Bone found the recently-introduced Burns wide on the right.

The Northern Ireland underage international cut inside before curling a sweet shot in the far corner of Gartside’s net.

PHOTO – Darragh Burns of St Patrick’s Athletic shoots to score his side’s second goal, from a penalty, during the SSE Airtricity U19 National League Final match between Bohemians and St Patrick’s Athletic at the UCD Bowl in Dublin. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

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