A Kevin O’Connor goal has secured three points for Waterford FC in their opening game of the season away to St. Patrick’s Athletic.
The Enniscorthy native, who is currently on loan from English Championship side Preston North End, capitalised on a failed back pass from Saints newcomer Robbie Benson just after half-time.
Billy King came close to equalising almost immediately after, but Waterford keeper Brian Murphy made a fine stretching save to ensure that the Scotsman wouldn’t score on his league debut.
Though the Saints stayed on top of their opposition almost all throughout, tight defending from the Blues back line left the Inchicore faithful feeling frustrated over the course of the game. St. Pats failed to breakthrough their defense on a number of occasions.
This left Pats players with little choice but to shoot from further out than they might like to. Most notably, a Dean Clarke effort from 40 yards out, undertaken after he noticed that Waterford keeper Brian Murphy was off his line, only barely missed the mark.
Though defensively sound, Waterford found themselves defending a number of corners, particularly well into the second half. A header from Saints captain Ian Bermingham at point blank range somehow found its way over the crossbar in the 66th minute.
St. Patrick’s manager Stephen O’Donnell made use of all three substitutions in an effort to bolster the team following O’Connor’s goal. New boy Jason McClelland was brought off for Christopher Forrester, Jamie Lennon made way for Ronan Hale while Dean Clarke came off for James Doona. Waterford, on the other hand, made only one change, taking Matthew Smith off for Darragh Power.
Rory Feely was booked after disputing the referee’s decision to refuse to award a penalty to the Saints following a tackle made in the Waterford box.
Waterford host Bohemians in the Regional Sports Centre in their next game, while St. Pats will travel to the Showgrounds to take on Sligo Rovers.
The official match attendance was 2,807.