EVERYONE involved with St Patrick's Athletic enjoyed their trip to the seaside yesterday as Johnny McDonnell's Saints eased their way into the third round of the FAI Calsberg Cup by disposing of Malahide United at Gannon Park.
With Dublin Bay and Lambay Island providing a beautiful backdrop, visiting supporters could have been forgiven for taking their eyes off on the pitch, but the St Pat's players had no such problems. They approached the game with the respect it deserved and never looked in danger of losing the club's record of never having lost to non-league opposition in the FAI Cup.
Malahide can take pride from their performance but first half goals from Mark Quigley and Trevor Molloy put them on the back-foot and the sending-off of Mark Cromwell six minutes before half-time effectively ended the game as a contest.
"We just wanted to get this one out of the way," said McDonnell when asked about the Saints' chances in the Cup this year. "Generally we are difficult to beat and we are playing alright, so we'll see how it goes."
On a playing surface as good as any in the country, St Pat's fizzed the ball around from the opening whistle and would have been ahead within eight minutes had Paul Keegan done better with his header from a Molloy cross.
Five minutes later the Saints were in front. Some sweet interplay between Keegan and Stephen Brennan ended with the ball at the feet of Quigley and the former Shamrock Rovers, making a rare start since his transfer, made no mistake with a low shot from 15 yards.
Malahide were rocked but quickly responded and midfielder Ray Whelehan came close with two efforts, the second a powerful header which produced a great save from Barry Ryan after a superb first-time cross from Wayne Griffin had set up the chance.
That was as good as it got for the home team and Molloy made it 2-0 on 35 minutes when a scuffed shot from Anto Murphy fortuitously fell to him.
Malahide were reduced to ten men four minutes later when Cromwell was shown the yellow card for the second time after an over-zealous challenge on Keegan.
With the game all but over, the second half provided significantly less goalmouth action, but Neil Beasley could have grabbed a consolation for Malahide late on only to be flagged offside.
© Irish Independent
Official Attendance: 1,182