IN 47 YEARS of European football St Patrick's Athletic had never tasted victory on the road. The wait is over after Ryan Guy headed the winner in Riga last night.
The American winger popped up at the far post to score the only goal of game against Virsliga strugglers Olimps and Johnny McDonnell's men have one foot firmly in the next round of the Uefa Cup.
In a game dominated by the Dubliners the solitary goal was slightly disappointing, considering the hosts had to play 82 minutes of the contest with only 10 men after Andrejs Stolcers was sent off for a head-butt on Stephen Paisley.
McDonnell said afterwards: "It was a difficult game because of the situation with the player being sent-off. It was a very defensive performance from Olimps and we needed to be very patient and keep the ball. They worked very hard, but I'm very happy with the clean sheet and the 1-0 victory."
Stolcers is assistant manager of the Latvians and considering he is 14 years older than any other player in his team, his action was unforgivable really. After the ensuing melee the Armenian referee booked Paisley and then brandished the red to his opponent.
It wasn't until after the half hour that St Patrick's began to turn the screw and Alan Kirby's shot was inadvertently blocked by Derek O'Brien, who was making his first start for his new club.
O'Brien had a long-range shot shot that just clipped the crossbar, before in the dying minutes of the half, captain Jamie Harris nearly headed Mark Quigley's cross-cum-shot to the net.
St Patrick's again dominated the second half as Kirby and substitute Glen Fitzpatrick spurned gilt-edged chances. Fitzpatrick's, in particular, was frustrating as he had done the hard work in rounding Kaspars Ikstens, but it was another Kaspars, Dubra this time, that cleared off the line.
The goal did eventually come. Gary Dempsey crossed from the right and Guy provided the finish.
© Irish Times