Conor O’Malley the Pat’s hero after shootout drama

Galway United 0 St Patrick’s Athletic 0 (St Patrick’s Athletic won 4-3 on penalties): St Patrick’s Athletic manager Liam Buckley hailed goalkeeper Conor O’Malley as a star of the future after the Mayo native saved two penalties in the shoot-out to hand the Super Saints the EA Sports Cup in Eamonn Deacy Park on Saturday night.

O’Malley, who only turned 21 in August, saved the efforts of both Jake Keegan and Andy O’Connell after 120 minutes of football couldn’t produce a goal, to secure a third trophy in three years for the Richmond Park club.

“I think he has a very, very bright future, I think he’ll develop into something special and we will have a fight to keep him,” said Buckley, after completing the set of domestic silverware, having won the league in 2013 and the FAI Cup last year.

On the balance of play, the visitors were fully deserving of the win, even if the game itself never lived up to the occasion.

The first half was a largely forgettable affair, with neither goalkeeper really tested, and while the hosts improved after the break, Pat’s always looked the more dangerous.

Both sides did have sights of goal in the second half, but Conan Byrne hit the outside of the post for Pat’s in the 50th minute, while at the other end, Kenny Browne got a crucial touch on a Paul Sinnott shot that was destined for the net.

O’Malley clawed away an Enda Curran free-kick midway through the half, while at the other end Conor Winn ensured an additional 30 minutes of action when getting his fingertips to a Killian Brennan free-kick in the last minute of normal time, having denied James Chambers 15 minutes earlier with a save that had both benches on their feet applauding.

United could have nicked it in extra-time, but the unmarked Curran couldn’t set his feet after being picked out by Colm Horgan 12 yards out from goal.

It went down to the lottery of penalties, and Pat’s took an early advantage when O’Malley saved United’s second effort from Jake Keegan.

The Inchicore outfit scored their first four kicks, and United converted their other three, so Sean Hoare had a chance to win the cup, but Winn saved to throw the home side a lifeline.

It meant O’Connell had to score his side’s fifth penalty to go to sudden death, but his weak effort was saved by O’Malley to claim the cup for Pat’s.

GALWAY UNITED:

Winn; Horgan, Oji (inj, O’Connell 103)), Cantwell, Ludden; Shanahan, Sinnott, Connolly, Molloy (inj, Walsh 73 ); Keegan, Curran (inj, Melody 112).

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC:

O’Malley; O’Brien, Hoare, Browne, Greene; Byrne, Bolger, Brennan (McGrath 91), Chambers, Greene (inj, Morris 113); Langley (Fagan 66).

Referee:

Paul McLaughlin (Monaghan).


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