AIRTRICITY PREMIER DIVISION:
Shamrock Rovers 0 St Patrick’s Athletic 4
League leaders St Patrick’s Athletic claimed another precious three points with four goals from Conan Byrne helping them overcome Dublin rivals Shamrock Rovers in their highly-charged Airtricity League Premier Division encounter at Tallaght Stadium last night.
The contest turned irrevocably in the 33rd minute, Anthony Buttimer adjudged Derek Foran to have pushed Anthony Flood inside the penalty area, with Foran’s dismissal compounded by Byrne’s emphatic conversion from 12 yards.
The 53rd-minute dismissal of Sean O’Connor for a foul on Christopher Forrester also hurt the hosts and allowed Byrne to complete his hat-trick with his second penalty of the night.
Given their nervy display against Drogheda United last Friday week, it was imperative the visitors started on the front foot and they duly opened the scoring within five minutes.
A half-clearance by Daniel Ledwith allowed Stephen Maher to out-jump Foran and Byrne was afforded far too much room to pull away from Ledwith before sliding a clinical finish across Richard Brush from 12 yards.
Despite both Ronan Finn and Karl Sheppard spurning half-chances it was the Saints who looked more threatening, with Forrester firing wide in the 16th minute after Ian Bermingham’s break down the left.
With the hosts committed to attack, it made for a free-flowing encounter and the Hoops should have levelled matters in the 21st minute following an excellent delivery from Ledwith.
However, alarming gaps were beginning to appear in the home defence, allowing Anthony Flood to release Byrne, who scuffed a straightforward chance wide of the upright under marginal pressure from Foran.
Byrne was given an opportunity to make amends in the 35th minute having been controversially awarded a penalty and, after a two-minute break, he dispatched a low drive down the middle to double his side’s advantage.
The second half maintained the vibrant pace of the early exchanges but another contentious decision by referee Buttimer in the 53rd minute, for an innocuous block on the galloping Forrester, led to another Pat’s penalty.
Finn needlessly tripped Forrester inside the area, with Byrne firing the resultant penalty low to the right of substitute goalkeeper Barry Murphy to secure the match ball.
A disastrous 10 minutes for the hosts was complete when Byrne was on hand to tap home from four yards after Murphy had worked wonders in repelling a Flood header in the 62nd minute.
Four goals for Byrne and three points closer to glory for Pat’s.
SHAMROCK ROVERS: Brush (Murphy, 46); McCormack, Sullivan, Foran, Ledwith; O’Connor, Robinson, Finn, Ryan, McCabe (Elebert, 36); Sheppard (Dennehy, 77).
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Clarke; O’Brien, Kenna, Browne, Bermingham; Byrne, Russell, Bolger, Maher (Gannon, 67), Forrester (Kavanagh, 77); Flood (Fagan, 66).
Referee: A Buttimer (Cork).
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