Shamrock Rovers took a another huge step toward securing their first league title since 1994 with this demolition of St Pat’s at a rocking Richmond Park.
It looked like a totally different story would unfold however, when Pat’s Ryan Guy headed in Brian Cash’s corner on two minutes.
Gary Twigg got Rovers back into contention with the equaliser as the first half entered stoppage time.
Second half strikes from Thomas Stewart and Billy Dennehy ensured the points went to the Tallaght men.
Guy put Pat’s into that dramatic early lead with just one minute and fifty six seconds on the clock. Cash swung a corner into the goalmouth at the Inchicore end of the ground and the American rose highest to flash a header past Rovers ‘keeper Alan Mannus.
The early setback stung table toppers Rovers into action and they could have been level on 12 minutes when Aidan Price met Dennehy’s corner but could only manage to force his header over the top.
Rovers arguably had the better of the possession as the half progressed though initially they couldn’t find the killer touch to break down a well marshalled Pat’s defence.
Rovers’ Stephen Bradley, Stephen Rice and Pat’s Dave Mulcahy all entered referee Dave McKeon’s notebook before the half hour mark had passed but that’s to be expected when these two great Dublin rivals go at it hammer and tongs.
The visitors were level in the 45th minute. James Chambers’ free kick coasted into the area, with a touch off Rice, before striking the left-hand upright were Twigg pounced to rifle the ball past Pat’s keeper Gary Rogers, to the delight of the visiting support, encamped behind Rogers in the Shed.
A barnstorming finish to the half saw Price fire over the bar in the third minute of stoppage time.
The frenetic action continued into the second half and Rovers were ahead on 56 minutes when Mulcahy failed to clear Dennehy’s ball into the area and Stewart punished Pat’s with a clinical finish past Rogers.
It got better for Rovers on 63 when Dennehy put them further ahead with a cracking shot past Rogers following a cross from Enda Stevens after Stuart Byrne failed to clear far out on the right wing.
Pat’s came more into the game after that with James O’Brien hitting the woodwork on 75 minutes while Mannus saved well from Cash on 80.
But it was Rovers’ night in Dublin 8 and barring a bizarre sequences of events and results over the next few weeks, the league pennant should be flying proudly over Tallaght Stadium very very soon.
St Patrick’s Ath: Rogers; Pender, Bermingham, Kenna, Guthrie; McAllister, Byrne, Mulcahy (O‘Brien 73), Cash (S Stewart 81), Guy (North 66); Faherty.
Shamrock Rovers: Mannus; Stevens, Sives, Price, Murphy; Chambers (O‘Connor 73), Rice, Bradley, Dennehy (Kavanagh 85); Twigg (Turner 81), T Stewart.
Referee: D McKeon (Dublin)
Airtricity Man of the Match: Billy Dennehy