St Pat's players celebrate Josh O'Hanlon late goal at Richmond Park
By Paul Buttner at Richmond Park
RTÉ Sport contributor
St Patrick’s Athletic produced a rousing come-from-behind victory for the second week running at Richmond Park, with Conan Byrne registering a goal and an assist in a 3-1 win.
Gary McCabe gave Bray a first-half lead with a stunning free-kick before St Pat’s rallied to score twice inside six second half minutes through Byrne and Christy Fagan in another stirring night by the Camac.
Substitute Josh O’Hanlon added their third goal in the dying minutes.
As was the case with last week defeat of Derry City, the victory lifts Liam Buckley’s side out of the bottom three, overnight at least.
A third defeat for Bray sees the troubled Wicklow side drop to fourth place in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division table.
Inspired by that morale-boosting win over Derry City last Friday, St Pat’s started with purpose in the late evening sunshine, almost punishing hesitant defending on eight minutes.
Bray keeper Peter Cherrie came to attempt to clear a long ball. But St Pat’s striker Fagan got there first to lay it back for Billy Dennehy, whose chip cleared the retreating Cherrie, but also the crossbar.
Graham Kelly, their match winner last week, shot wide minutes later as the Inchicore side maintained their early impetus.
A poor header by Hugh Douglas then had Bray in trouble on 17 minutes, the Bray defender relieved to see Fagan’s shot sail over the bar.
The one-way traffic continued towards the visitors goal as Fagan met Conan Byrne’s right wing delivery to loop a header onto the roof of Cherrie’s net.
With John Sullivan, Ryan Brennan and Gary McCabe working hard in midfield, Bray did pass their way into the game, though without threatening Conor O’Malley’s goal.
St Pat’s remained the far more menacing side in the final third, with Conan Byrne just overcooking a cross for Billy Dennehy at the far post after Fagan’s clever ball in behind left-back Kevin Lynch.
For all that, however, St Pat’s were behind to a majestic piece of skill on 37 minutes.
Saints’ Killian Brennan was booked for a silly foul on McCabe. Bray’s top scorer picked himself up to inflict further punishment when sending his direct free-kick to the net in off the underside of the crossbar for a sublime 14th goal of the season.
The home side were livid minutes before half-time when Michael Barker went down under the challenge of Keith Buckley with referee Neil Doyle waving play on.
Brennan then showed clever feet to ride several tackles only to get under his shot which never troubled Cherrie.
But Cherrie had to be there to rescue Bray within a minute of the restart with a point-blank save to deprive Dennehy after Byrnes, Conan and Kurtis, worked the opening on the right.
Another penalty shout was then denied St Pat’s as Douglas appeared to handle a Fagan shot from another Conan Byrne cross from the right.
But the pressure of a fifth corner inside six second-half minutes brought its reward with an equaliser.
Dennehy swept the ball in from the right and Byrne rose to plant a downward header to the net.
Four minutes later, Byrne thought he’d put St Pat’s in front but his header from Fagan’s cross was ruled out for offside.
There was no denying Saints, though, on 57 minutes as the same two combined to deservedly put the home side in front.
Byrne raced away onto Brennan’s pass, kept the ball in play, before crossing low for Fagan to drill his shot to the bottom corner with a first-time right-footed finish.
Substitute Josh O’Hanlon put the gloss on the win with St Pat’s third goal in stoppage time, finishing calmly after Dennehy diligently worked the opening.
St Patrick’s Athletic: Conor O’Malley; Michael Barker, Jordi Balk, Lee Desmond, Ian Bermingham; Killian Brennan (Rory Feely 90+3); Conan Byrne, Kurtis Byrne (JJ Lunney 76), Graham Kelly, Billy Dennehy; Christy Fagan (Josh O’Hanlon 86)
Bray Wanderers: Peter Cherrie; Keith Buckley, Hugh Douglas, Conor Kenna, Kevin Lynch (Ger Pender h-t); John Sullivan (Darragh Noone 60), Mark Salmon; Ryan Brennan, Gary McCabe, Jason Marks (Karl Moore 73); Aaron Greene
Referee: Neil Double (Dublin)