Shamrock Rovers moved five points clear at the top of the Premier Division table thanks to a stunning first half dismissal of Bray Wanderers at Tallaght.

The Hoops produced an irresistible 45 minutes of first half football, scoring four goals before the break in a clear statement of their championship credentials.

Bray had beaten St Patrick’s Athletic and tested Bohemians in the past week, but they were no match for the league leaders in this form.

Michael O’Neill could even afford to withdraw Gary Twigg before the break and captain Dan Murray at half time, after Twigg had contributed two goals and an assist before succumbing to a dead leg.

Pat Devlin’s side knew they were in for a tough night within two minutes as Matt Gregg had to react sharply to prevent Derek Prendergast from scoring an own goal after Twigg had turned a James Chambers cross onto his head.

The cross bar then came to the Seagulls’ rescue as Murray flicked Stephen Rice’s long throw to the Scotsman, but with his back to goal he hooked the ball on to the top of the bar.

The inevitable goal finally came within the opening quarter of an hour, Twigg found Billy Dennehy who fizzed a low cross across goal, Gregg misjudged it and the hapless Sean Houston bundled the ball into his own net.

Paddy Kavanagh went close with a well struck shot, while Shane O’Neill had a rare sight of goal for Bray, before Twigg found Rice who doubled the hosts’ lead with a cool finish.

And it was three within the half hour, the Bray defence were caught napping by Danny Murphy’s whipped delivery and Twigg hooked the ball past Gregg.

Chambers could have added a fourth on two occasions. First, he was denied by the reactions of Gregg who turned the ball behind. And after some ping-pong in the Wanderers’ area from the corner, the ball fell to Chambers who had his shot cleared off the line by Dean Zambra.

But the Hoops faithful didn’t have to wait until the second half for a fourth as Neale Fenn beat the Bray offside trap with a clever through ball and Twigg slotted home a second.

The second half was played out in pedestrian fashion with the result beyond doubt. Kelly had an effort go close for Bray, while Fenn almost opened his Rovers account, only to be denied by a fine Gregg stop.

And Bray did grab a consolation back before the end as Gary Dempsey fired home from the edge of the box.

SHAMROCK ROVERS – 1. AlanMannus; 8. James Chambers, 5. Aidan Price, 24. Dan Murray ( 13. Pat Flynn h-t), 19. Danny Murphy; 15. Paddy Kavanagh, 6. Stephen Rice, 7. Stephen Bradley (18. Chris Turner 58), 20. Billy Dennehy; 11. Neale Fenn, 9. Gary Twigg (23. Tommy Stewart 45+1).

Subs not used: Pat Jennings, Danny McGuinness.

BRAY WANDERERS – 1. Matt Gregg; 2 Dave Webster, 4. Shane O’Connor, 5. Derek Prendergast, 3. Sean Houston; 7. Dean Zambra, 6. Gary Dempsey (12. Colm Tresson 89) 8. Danny O’Connor (14. James Kavanagh 59),11. Jake Kelly; 9. Shane O’Neill, 10. John Mulroy (16. Dane Massey 56).

REFEREE - D Hancock (Dublin)