A stunning free kick goal from Killian Brennan gave St. Patrick's Athletic a deserved 1-0 win over a sluggish Derry City at the Brandywell to see the Dubliners move back top of the Premier Division table, two points clear of Dundalk.
The game could scarcely have begun better for St. Pat's who were what proved their matchwinning goal up as early as the third minute. A clumsy challenge by Shane McEleney on Shane McFaul gave away a free kick some 25 yards out. And midfielder Brennan brilliantly curled the ball up and over the wall in into the net off 'keeper Ger Doherty's right-hand post for a superb eighth goal of the campaign.
Utterly dominant against a Derry side greatly lacking confidence having lost their previous three home league games, St. Pat's should have added to their lead on 22 minutes but for a good challenge by McEleney on Christy Fagan from Ger O'Brien's cross.
Derry were far better in the second half with winger Paddy Kavanagh bringing a good save from Brendan Clarke on 66 minutes. But the home side were carved open minutes later with Ryan McBride having to make a terrific tackle to take the ball off the toe of Saints' Daryl Kavanagh as he was about to shoot.
The only negative to St. Pat's night was an injury to substitute midfielder Stephen Maher which held the game up for ten minutes.
Champions Sligo Rovers had to come from behind to earn a point from a 1-1 draw at Drogheda United which leaves them now seven points behind St. Pat's in third place.
Drogheda edged ahead in the 29th minute of an evenly contested clash. Fullback Shane Grimes did well to get forward and pick out Paul O'Conor with the cross and the midfielder shot past 'keeper Gary Rogers from close range.
Home defender Alan McNally cleared off the line from Raffaele Cretaro on 39 minutes before Sligo deservedly levelled five minutes into the second half. Joseph Ndo and Alan Keane were involved to send Danny North away on the right and his cross was turned home by David Cawley.