St Patrick’s Athletic secured European football next season after grinding out a 1-0 win over Cork City on the final night of action in the 2012 Airtricity League Premier Division at Richmond Park.
Christy Fagan’s second-half goal was enough to see St Pat’s hang on to third place, while Cork will have to content themselves with sixth position.
The hosts dominated from the off as Cork, employing their usual one-man attack, struggled to create any real goalscoring chances.
The only time Pat’s goalkeeper Brendan Clarke looked anyway concerned in the opening 45 minutes was when a Gearoid Morrissey drive from 25 yards required attention.
Mark McNulty was much busier however, as the Saints peppered his goal.
Fagan went closest on 16 minutes when his low, powerful drive smashed off the post before rolling right across the Cork goal to safety.
Winger Vinny Faherty fizzed a thunderous drive just a yard over the bar on 28 minutes.
By that stage, Ian Bermingham had got it on the act. His shot was well wide though.
Indeed, the Saints’ shooting and shot selection was poor throughout the opening half.
Sean O’Connor caused trouble as he flitted from wing to wing, but too often the final ball was poor, with Pat’s lacking that clinical touch in the final third.
After the restart, full-back Ger O’Brien was inches away from grabbing the opener as his cross-cum-shot narrowly evaded the Cork goal, and the in-rushing Faherty.
However, there was no saving grace for Tommy Dunne’s men on 56 minutes when Fagan fired past McNulty after being played in by Faherty.
Given the Saints’ dominance, it seemed the floodgates would soon open. But to Cork’s credit, they dug in and began to hit Pat’s on the break and with real intent.
Shane Duggan’s powerful shot brought a good save from Clarke on 74 minutes.
Dunne introduced Davin O’Neill and Stephen Kenny and while the visitors played out much of the second half in the ascendency, they never really looked like finding the equaliser.
Pat's poor second-half display can perhaps be forgiven with an FAI Cup final just around the corner, while Cork will take solace with their top-flight status guaranteed.
St Patrick’s Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Ger O’Brien, Kenny Browne, Conor Kenna, Ian Bermingham; James Chambers, Jake Carroll (Ryan Coombes, 89), Chris Forrester, Sean O’Connor (John Russell, 77), Vinny Faherty (Jake Kelly, 57); Christy Fagan
Subs not used: Nathan Murphy, Pat Flynn, Aidan Price, Anthony Flood,
Cork City: Mark McNulty; John Dunleavy, Gavin Kavanagh, Kevin Murray, Danny Murphy; Ian Turner (Davin O’Neill, 67), Shane Duggan, Colin Healy, Gearoid Morrissey, Daryl Horgan; Vinny Sullivan (Stephen Kenny, 71)
Subs not used: Danny Morrissey, Dan Murray, Kalen Spillane, Neal Horgan, Kevin Burns
Referee: Paul Tuite