Derry City must win the FAI Cup if St Patrick's Athletic are to play European football next season after the Saints were beaten by Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds.
Aidan Keena smashed home his 20th goal of the season in the second half and this result, coupled with Dundalk’s win over Bohemians, means Pat’s cannot catch the Lilywhites in third.
Tim Clancy’s side must now rely on Derry beating Shelbourne in the cup decider on 13 November if they are to play Europa Conference League football in 2023.
In their second game in five days, Sligo welcomed back defender Colm Horgan and skipper Greg Bolger to the fold, after both missed out on the starting XI for last Monday’s draw with Derry. While Pat’s brought back goalkeeper David Odumosu along with defenders Barry Cotter, Tom Grivosti and Paddy Barrett following their disappointing defeat to champions Shamrock Rovers one week ago.
It was the visitors who were almost gifted an early lead when Rovers goalkeeper Richard Brush stumbled as he controlled Nando Pijnaker’s under-hit back pass. The veteran goalkeeper recovered just in time to stop Eoin Doyle from close range.
Clear-cut chances were at a premium in this opening half. Sligo youngster Kalin Barlow, who this week signed a three-year deal, saw his snapshot from the edge of the area sail narrowly wide.
Pat’s then had the best opening of the half six minutes from time. Adam O’Reilly’s through ball found Chris Forrester and his finish was enough to beat Brush but not the quick recovery of Colm Horgan, who managed to get back in time to clear the ball off the line.
Serge Atakyi had Brush on his toes on the stroke of half-time as the former Shamrock Rovers man palmed the shot from the angle over. While Keena, once a Saint, wasn’t miles away with a bending effort which curled around Odumosu’s goal in added time.
🎥 | GOAL!— SSE Airtricity League (@SSEAirtricityLg) October 28, 2022
Aidan Keena scores from the spot to give Sligo Rovers the lead against St. Pat's! 🔴
His 17th league goal of the season 🙌
𝑾𝒆𝒍𝒄𝒐𝒎𝒆 𝒕𝒐 𝑯𝒆𝒂𝒗𝒆𝒏 🙏
Watch live | https://t.co/zOGOgOjp1S 📺#LOI | #LOITV pic.twitter.com/1Dn9TBS1N0
The second half, delayed due to crowd issues, was nine minutes old when Rovers went ahead. Paddy Barrett fumbled Keena to the floor inside the Pat’s area before the Mullingar man rifled the ball past Odumosu from 12 yards for his 20th of the season in all competitions.
Sam Curtis forced another save from Brush after fine work from Eoin Doyle on 64 minutes, while the same man’s cross caused panic in the Rovers area a few minutes later, but Brush gathered the loose ball.
Brush was on call again to get a touch to substitute Ben McCormack’s first time effort ten minutes from time as the Dubliners failed in their search for an equaliser.
Sligo Rovers: Richard Brush; Colm Horgan, Lewis Banks, Nando Pijnaker, Paddy Kirk (Eanna Clancy 70); Adam McDonnell, Greg Bolger (Robbie Burton 51); Frank Liivak, Will Fitzgerald; Kailin Barlow (Karl O'Sullivan 87); Aidan Keena.
St Patrick’s Athletic: David Odumosu; Joe Redmond, Tom Grivosti, Paddy Barrett (Mark Doyle 68); Sam Curtis, Barry Cotter; Thijs Timmermans, Adam O’Reilly (Ben McCormack 77), Chris Forrester; Serge Atakayi (Billy King 63); Eoin Doyle.
Referee: John McLoughlin