Belfast Telegraph

Derry City's bitter taste

Fagan at the double for Pat's as Derry fail to assert authority on season showpiece

By Eoin Wilson

There was Cup final heartbreak for Derry City as two goals from Christy Fagan proved enough for St Patrick's Athletic to win the FAI Cup.

Fagan's double came as a result of errors from Derry defenders and summed up the Candystripes' season, which has been blighted by individual and collective mistakes.

His first goal, which trickled over the line on 53 minutes, could easily have been stopped but Danny Ventre could not adjust his feet to hook the ball off the line, much to the dismay of goalkeeper Gerard Doherty and everyone in red and white.

Then, as City pushed late on, Barry Molloy lost possession to Fagan, who raced through, around Doherty and slotted the ball into the empty net.

Try as they might throughout, Derry could not get back into the game, with Peter Hutton's side having just one shot on target in the entire 90 minutes.

Doherty came to City's rescue on 15 minutes as a simple ball forward from Sean Hoare found the run of Fagan in behind Aaron Barry, but the keeper read the danger and was out quickly to block at the striker's feet, before Conan Byrne tried an ambitious effort from the rebound, with the ball sailing well wide.

Pat's were growing in confidence but, when Dean Jarvis got the better of Conan Byrne, it set Derry off on a counter attack, with Michael Duffy racing down the left against Hoare before crossing to Rory Patterson, who got underneath his header and the ball sailed over, much to the striker's very obvious disappointment.

A huge concern for Hutton was just how easily Pat's were opening Derry up with long balls and another punt from Hoare almost put Fagan in but, fortunately for Derry, his touch was too heavy and Doherty was able to collect.

A superb opportunity then came and went for Derry in the blink of an eye as Patterson worked a shooting opportunity for Philip Lowry on the edge of the penalty area but, just when it seemed as if the midfielder would shoot, he opted instead for the pass left to Jarvis, which he overhit and the chance was gone.

Derry were living so dangerously as half time approached with the movement of Fagan in particular a constant source of consternation for the defence.

Ventre's decision to go for a high ball 25 yards from goal with a high foot other than his head almost had disastrous consequences for his team as possession broke kindly for Fagan, who drilled across the goal, past the outstretched hand of Doherty, but just wide of the post.

The second half was just six minutes old when Pat's got the goal their play had so thoroughlly deserved.

However, it was incredibly naive of Derry yet again, as Keith Fahey got in down the right and his pull back found Fagan, who was able to turn and hook a half-hearted shot goalwards, which deflected on its way, before somehow evading Ventre on the line and creeping in off the post.

It was a devastating blow for Derry but it was a wake up call that they desperately needed.

With the hour approaching, City still didn't look in any way comfortable in the game, with Pat's keeperBrendan Clarke yet to make a save and Patrick McEleney, Stephen Dooley, Michael Duffy and Patterson not able to influence proceedings in any fashion due to the control that their opponents were exerting.

But Derry did kick it up a gear and Patterson was ambitious as he fired a shot over from 18 yards following another hooked through ball from Duffy.

A free kick for Derry in a dangerous area, just 20 yards from the Pat's goal, almost resulted in another conversion at the other end.

McEleney's set piece smacked against the wall and, when Duffy lost possession, Pat's broke in numbers, with Fahey racing down the right before playing a scintillating ball for Fagan who, one on one with Doherty, sent a tame side-footed effort at goal, which trickled wide of the target.

City then suffered another huge blow when Ryan McBride had to go off injured, to be replaced by Barry McNamee with Barry Molloy taking McBride's place in defence.

McNamee seemed to have an immediate impact with simple passes which began to find team mates in space and, on 72 minutes, he was responsible for City's only shot on target.

Dooley was able to turn on the edge of the Pat's area and fired a pass into the area which Lowry laid off for McNamee, but the midfielder went for precision rather than power and Clarke saved comfortably.

Nevertheless, it was City's first shot on target and indicative that this final was not yet beyond Derry.

They were finally putting some pressure on Pat's as the game headed towards the final 10 minutes and, following a good spell of dominance, Duffy's cross was perfect for Patterson but he headed just over, with the ball skimming the roof of the net.

The Cup was secured for St Pat's in added time however, thanks to yet another Derry mistake, with Molloy losing the ball to Fagan and he raced through and past Doherty before rolling the ball home to commence the Inchicore party.

Belfast Telegraph


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