Conan Byrne was the hero of the night after finding the net four times and extending St Patrick’s Athletic’s lead at the top of the table
Liam Buckley’s side were quick off the blocks and started the stronger of the two, in what the stadium announcer called “the real Dublin derby”. They managed to snatch a quick goal on the five minute mark, with a nicely timed low strike into the corner by Conan Byrne from 12 yards out.
St Pat’s almost doubled their lead in the 15th minute when a nice cross from Ian Bermingham found Chris Forrester in the box, but the resulting shot just grazed off the post and went out for a goal kick.
The Hoops almost managed to grab a goal a few minutes later, when newcomer Richie Ryan made a nice pass to Danny Ledwith who flicked the subsequent cross in towards Sean O’Connor on the far post. He took it on his head but could only send it over the crossbar.
The Rovers fans knew they were going to be in for a long night when Derek Foran saw red in the 34th minute for a harsh push on Anthony Flood, with Byrne converting the resulting spot kick.
Shamrock Rovers managed to suppress the oncoming Saints attacks for the next 10 minutes or so, bringing an entertaining first half to a close.
The second half brought more of the same, with Shamrock Rovers being outshone in midfield. To make matters worse the Hoops were shown another red card on 53’ as Sean O’Connor was sent off for a hard tackle. Byrne converted the penalty for St Pat’s once again.
There was simply no way back for Shamrock Rovers after that and with the visitors in the driving seat it wasn’t long before they showed their superiority once again as Byrne netted his fourth goal of the evening following a header from Flood in the 62nd minute.
The atmosphere and performance fell flat in the remaining half hour, and the game finished with the Saints as crystal-clear winners.
It’s back to the tactics board for Trevor Croly and his men as Shamrock Rovers will be hoping for a much improved performance when they play Bohemians in Dalymount Park on August 16 while St Patrick’s Athletic will host Shelbourne.
Meanwhile Dundalk remain in second place following a 2-1 win away at Shelbourne. Andy Boyle and Brian Gartland struck early in the first half for the Lilywhites while Graham Gartland responded in vain for the hosts.