St Patrick's Athletic have one FAI Cup win to their name in the past half-century but they are well-placed to at least reach another final after overcoming a spirited and talented Wexford at Richmond Park, Darragh Burns scoring twice and Ronan Coughlan converting a penalty.
Controversy reigned for much of a first half that saw each side lose a player to a red card, referee Derek Tomney making several questionable calls on the night but, despite things going against them, Saints had the class to prevail.
This could have gone badly awry for the home side, but it was hard to credit that Wexford have only 12 points to their name in the First Division. Under Ian Ryan, they have improved markedly, and they never gave up.
Tomney has been involved in a scatter of controversial incidents in the past couple of weeks, sending off five players in the space of the past week alone, but surely none of the others was as notable as the red card he gave to Sam Bone seven minutes in.
Jack Moylan has been a superb addition on loan from Bohemians and he was really canny in a wrestle with Bone from a long punt, effectively drawing a foul a long way from goal.
Bone was the last man but there was little in the tackle and Moylan must have been at least 35 yards from goal. Manager Stephen O'Donnell was understandably apoplectic when Bone was dismissed.
The angry Saints crowd then looked for a penalty when Matty Smith went down in the box when Kevin McEvoy closed him down but Tomney, perhaps wisely, adjudged it to be much about nothing.
At the other end, Conor Crowley flashed the ball wide and, for the neutral, the 11 versus ten scenario made it all the more compelling.
Saints took the lead on 34 minutes. Slack Wexford defending allowed Billy King to tee up Burns, who took his time before beating Jimmy Corcoran from close range at the old Shed end.
The Saints lead against @WexfordFC!— SSE Airtricity League (@SSEAirtricityLg) September 17, 2021
A clinical move from ten man @stpatsfc has broken the deadlock at Richmond Park. Darragh Burns applied the finishing touch.
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Chris Forrester was a lucky man on 38 minutes. Irked by a push from Moylan, he seemed to if not quite head-butt the loanee at least get up very close and personal; Paul Fox then pushed Forrester. Remarkably, no card was given to either.
Wexford were down to ten four minutes before the break as Conor Crowley was given a second booking. The first was on the harsh side for a tackle on Forrester; the second looked justified and was certainly an unwise lunge on Matty Smith for a player on a yellow to attempt.
After a fine Jack Hickman cross and Corcoran parry, Burns blasted over when he probably should have scored on the interval.
Saints nearly killed the game off just after the break. A stunning Forrester pass that any player would have been proud of, put King in but he snatched badly at his shot and it careered well wide.
Wexford were far from out of this and, dangerous on the break, Harry Groome had Vite Jaros scrambling albeit somewhat theatrically.
At the other end, a gorgeous hooked finish from Smith nearly deceived Corcoran.
Wexford were performing with great credit and the understanding between Karl Fitzsimons and Moylan was evinced before the latter blasted over from a tight angle 13 minutes in.
Saints sealed the deal on 63 minutes when Burns again found space inside the box and made no mistake after another lovely Forrester pass.
Superb Wexford play from Groome and Paul Fox saw the latter cross but no player could connect.
Paul Cleary bundled Forrester over at the death and substitute Coughlan slotted home the penalty to ease Saints into the last four.
St Patrick's Athletic: Jaros; Hickman, Bone, Barrett (Abankwah 89), Birmingham; McCormack, Forrester, Lennon; Burns, Smith (Coughlan 73), King (Lewis 62).
Wexford: Corcoran; Considine (Dobbin 88), McEvoy, Fitzgerald, Cleary, Fox; Fitzsimons (Yousif 87), Manahan (Farrell 68) Crowley, Groome (Connolly 88); Moylan (Scanlon 90).
Referee: Derek Tomney.