Shamrock Rovers got back to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over Shelbourne in Tallaght Stadium, first-half goals from Richie Towell and Rory Gaffney the difference for Stephen Bradley’s side.
Rovers certainly started the brightest and were ahead after just 66 seconds. Richie Towell finished off a move that came shortly after Shels wasted an attacking free-kick. Graham Burke played in Rory Gaffney who crossed, Dylan Watts cleverly stepped over the ball before Towell slotted it calmly into the bottom corner.
The home side dominated possession in the opening half with Burke picking up some clever positions which caused The Reds problems. The Ireland international showed some nice trickery in the 10th minute before attempting an audacious lob from just inside the Shels half, but it fell short and was saved by Brendan Clarke.
As the half wore on Gaffney became more influential. The industrious striker played in Andy Lyons when the ball just wouldn't come down for him to shoot. The wing-back cut onto his favoured right foot but the effort was blocked.
Burke then turned provider for Gaffney on the 28th minute but his shot was gathered by the experienced Clarke.
But the striker was not to be denied for much longer. Just on the half-hour mark he linked with Lyons down Rovers' left before turning at the corner of the box and rifling the ball past Clarke.
Damien Duff’s side’s best chance came just moments before the break, Sean Boyd met Shane Farrell’s free-kick but the striker mishit his header and Alan Mannus gathered it.
Rovers started the second half just as they started the first and should have had a third goal within the first minute. Lyons crossed for Gaffney but Clarke blocked his close-range effort before Watts was denied by a last-ditch Aaron O’Driscoll block.
On 66 minutes Rovers skipper Ronan Finn got forward and crossed for his opposite wing-back Lyons but the ex-Bohemians man headed way over.
Minutes later Finn had two chances in quick succession. He angled a run in behind the visitor's defence but Clarke was quick off his line to stop him. He gathered the rebound and smashed an effort goalbound but Clarke again got to it.
While Shelbourne looked organised and passed well at times they lacked any cutting edge in the final third. Rovers generally held them to half-chances and crosses. A Sean Boyd miss-hit shot from a free-kick was the closest the Reds came in the second half.
It was almost 3 after 84 minutes when substitute Neil Farrugia showed great pace before crossing for fellow sub Aaron Greene, but the striker missed the ball completely.
Rovers extended their lead at the top to 8 points after Derry dropped points tonight, while Shels remain sixth but have a game in hand on Sligo in fifth.
Alan Mannus; Andy Lyons (Lee Grace 78), Roberto Lopez, Sean Hoare, Sean Kavanagh, Ronan Finn (Neil Farrugia 78); Richie Towell, Gary O'Neill, Dylan Watts ( Chris McCann 78), Graham Burke; Rory Gaffney ( Aaron Greene 78) Booked: O’Neill (39) Burke (63)
Brendan Clarke; Conor Kane, Shane Griffin, Luke Byrne (c), Aaron O’Driscoll; Jad Hakiki (Kameron Ledwidge 58) JJ Lunney, Aodh Dervin (Gavin Molloy), Jack Moylan (John Ross Wilson 58) Shane Farrell, Sean Boyd.