THE players, management and fans of Cork City celebrated like they had won the game when the final whistle blew at Richmond Park last night. And their joy was understandable.
For this was a point gained in the most dramatic of circumstances. Down to nine men after the sending off of Sean Kelly and the loss through injury of Darren Murphy after all three subs had been used, the Leesiders equalised with three minutes remaining when Denis Behan smashed the ball home from close range after a frenetic goalmouth scramble.
It was a goal that was particularly enjoyed by City boss Damien Richardson. Minutes earlier, he had been sent to the stand following an exchange of words with the match officials. Surrounded by taunting St Pat's fans, he revelled in his side's late heroics.
Meanwhile, Saints chief John McDonnell could only reflect on the plethora of chances his side squandered in the second half when the odds were heavily stacked in their favour.
St Pat's almost went ahead within a mere 29 seconds when a rapid fire move resulted in Mark Quigley teeing up a shot for Alan Kirby, who struck the outside of an upright with a fierce drive.
Poor concentration at the other end almost saw the home team fall behind just before the quarter-hour mark. Darragh Maguire's back header inadvertently released Behan, who was left with just Barry Ryan to beat, but scuffed his attempt wide.
It was a bad miss that contrasted sharply with the clinical manner in which Ryan Guy would put the Dubliners ahead in the 38th minute. St Pat's broke at speed, with Kirby and Quigley linking up before feeding the ball to Michael Keane and he fortuitously released Guy, who fired a superb first-time strike past Devine.
Almost immediately, the Leesiders withdrew the injured Joe Gamble, while Pat's would also lose Keane before the break.
Saints midfielder Billy Gibson headed the ball against an upright almost immediately after the restart and, while Cork did enjoy periods of pressure, they had another let-of when a goal-line clearance from Neale Horgan after his initial error denied Quigley.
Shortly after, the luckless Kelly was dismissed for a professional foul on Quigley and, when Murphy was forced off after a rash challenge by Gibson which infuriated Richardson, all was looking grim for the visitors. That would soon change.
© Irish Independent