A STUNNING display from St Patrick's Athletic which yielded three goals saw them emphatically defeat Galway United at Richmond Park last night.
A game which ebbed and flowed from end to end was ultimately decided by the quality of the Saints' finishing as first half goals from Robbie Griffin and Paul Byrne and a Ger McCarthy strike just after half-time sealed the points.
But at the same time, the performance of Pat's 'keeper Seamus Kelly was equally important as he continually thwarted the lively Galway attack and deservedly took the man of the match award.
St Pat's - who were looking to build on their midweek win in the League Cup semi-final in midweek - were handed a pre-match boost when two of their key players passed late fitness tests, midfielder Paul Osam (who had been bothered by a groin injury) and striker McCarthy (calf).
Galway were also boosted by the return of Kieran Foley to the starting line-up for the first time in eight weeks, following a shoulder injury.
But it was McCarthy who had a huge influence on the opening goal in the fourth minute.
McCarthy broke clear of the Galway defence and crossed for Griffin. Bobby Ryan nipped in as Griffin was about to pull the trigger to concede the corner, but when Paul Byrne swung the ball over it was Griffin who rose highest to head home.
This was a tonic start for the Saints as they set about making amends for last week's 3-1 league defeat to rivals Shelbourne.
Three minutes later, Griffin almost went from hero to villain as he was fortunate his tackle on Ryan in the Pat's box went unpunished by referee John Stacey, who waved away Galway's claims for a penalty.
Moments later, another Byrne delivery caused havoc in the Galway box, but Colm Foley headed just wide.
Yet Galway still proved a threat at the other end. Kelly had to be alert in the 19th minute to hold Eric Lavine's long-range drive.
And two minutes later former Celtic star Ger Crossley tried his luck from 25 yards, but his sweetly struck shot produced an equally first-rate tip-over from Kelly.
Amid nervy times for the home side, they doubled their advantage when Byrne fired home a superb 25-yard free-kick on the half hour mark.
They may have been two down, but the visitors continued to play their part in a pulsating half, but once again Kelly was in top form, this time pushing away Foley's dipping header.
And his opposite number Forde had to be alert five minutes before the interval to deny McCarthy.
However, it was not long before McCarthy did have that third goal as just four minutes into the second half he curled a cracking shot past Forde.