Goals from Michael Duffy and David McMillan secured the points for defending champions Dundalk as they continue their pursuit of Cork City at the top of the table.
But it’s another defeat for relegation-threatened St Pat’s who showed very little creativity in front of a crowd of 1,436 at Richmond Park. They will be thankful to their goalkeeper Conor O’Malley though.
He pulled off several fine saves and if it wasn’t for him the damage could have been much worse.
On a warm and sunny evening in Dublin 8, the visitors played into the low setting sun in the first period and had the first chance of note on 12 minutes. Captain Stephen O’Donnell was released down the right wing and cut in before firing low but O’Malley was well placed to save.
But the Pat’s keeper could do nothing about Duffy’s stunning free kick that gave Dundalk the lead on 21 minutes. From about 30 yards out Duffy curled a brilliant strike past the Pat’s wall and into the top left corner.
Duffy had a chance to double Dundalk’s lead on 29 minutes when he fired a low shot from the right of the box but again O’Malley was in the right place to make the save. That shot had come at the end of an excellent passage of Dundalk play that had started along the left wing with Dane Massey then Jamie McGrath playing pivotal roles.
O’Malley was by far Pat’s best player on the night and he then made two vital interventions within a minute of each other.
Firstly, on 32 he denied Patrick McEleney, who had been played in by Duffy and then a minute later he saved an O’Donnell effort with his foot.
On 39 minutes Massey crossed for McMillan in the six-yard box but Rory Feely cleared for Pat’s and when the ball came back into the mix the now offside McMillan headed wide.
Pat’s started the second period in strong fashion and enjoyed plenty of possession in and around the Dundalk box. On 48 Kurtis Byrne tried his luck from the right of the box but was denied by Gary Rogers in the Dundalk goal.
At the other end McEleney went close to increasing Dundalk’s lead with a rasping left-footed shot on 57 that flashed narrowly wide of the right hand post.
Then McMillan had another shot on the hour-mark but O’Malley got down well to save.
But McMillan was rewarded with a goal that his work-rate deserved, on 68 minutes. He received the ball and turned before shooting from the edge of the box with his strike squeezing past O’Malley.
O’Malley; Barker, Peers, Feely, Bermingham; Cregg (Kelly 65 mins), Desmond (A O’Hanlon 74 mins); K Byrne (C Byrne 80 mins), Markey, Lunney; Fagan.
Rogers; Gannon, Barrett, Vemmelund, Massey; Shields, O’Donnell (Benson 51 mins); Duffy (Clifford 87 mins), McEleney, McGrath; McMillan (Kilduff 84 mins).
Sean Grant (Wexford).