Drogheda United confirmed second spot in the Airtricity League Premier Division, following an emphatic 4-1 victory over Bohemians at Dalymount Park on Friday evening.
Tiernan Mulvenna grabbed the scoring headlines with a hat-trick, opening the scoring in the 24th minute and adding a second a minute before the break.
Evan McMillan responded for a laboured Bohemians in first half injury-time, but goals by captain Alan McNally and Mulvenna’s third in the 69th minute sealed a big win for the Drogs.
The visitors, who confirmed their Europa League spot last weekend after overcoming league winners Sligo Rovers, made the brighter start and Paul Crowley’s second minute shot deflected narrowly wide of Greg Murray’s left-hand upright.
Drogheda maintained their early dominance, punctuating their display with intricate passing movements and from one such move in the 16th minute, Mulvenna found Ryan Brennan in front of goal but the latter fluffed his lines, stumbling over the ball with the goal at his mercy.
Given their hold on proceedings, it was of scant surprise to see the Louth men take the lead in the 24th minute with a goal of beautiful simplicity, as Mulvenna raced onto a sublime through-ball from Sean Brennan to confidently despatch a rising shot beyond Murray.
The hosts reacted to the concession of that goal by redeploying McMillan in attack and that move almost instigated an equaliser in the 34th minute as McMillan released Andy Mulligan, who spurned a glorious chance by volleying wide from 16 yards.
After Mulvenna had somehow contrived to miss an open goal in the 41st minute, he more than made amends with a clinical strike from close range thee minutes later, availing of excellent approach play from Stephen Quigley.
Looking especially secure at the back, United lost concentration in injury-time when Gabriel Sava spilled the ball under pressure from Dinny Corcoran and Evan McMillan was on hand to find the bottom corner, halving his side’s deficit in the process.
However, any momentum that goal may have provided was quickly punctured upon the resumption, with both Ryan Brennan and substitute John Sullivan both going close inside the opening three minutes of the half.
Those misses mattered little in the 49th minute as captain Alan McNally stooped low to head Philip Hand’s inswinging corner-kick past a badly-exposed Murray to restore his side’s two-goal advantage.
Although coming a distant second in terms of possession, Bohemians remained a threat from set-pieces and substitute Keith Ward struck Sava’s upright from a 25-yard free-kick on the hour mark after Derek Prendergast had earned a caution for fouling McMillan.
After Mulvenna was briefly denied his hat-trick after a fine save from Murray in the 63rd minute, the individual milestone arrived six minutes later as he arrived to capitalise on an error by Murray to slot home from four yards.
Sadly, with six minutes remaining, Mulvenna’s evening took a turn for the worst as he was stretchered off following an innocuous looking challenge but that was the only disappointing footnote to an otherwise excellent evening for United.
Bohemians: Murray, Heary, Feely, McMillan, Barker; Buckley, Traynor (Ward, 46), Pender, McEvoy, Mulligan (Moore, 46); Corcoran (Scully, 71).
Drogheda United: Sava; Quigley, Prendergast (Marks, 86), McNally, Hand; Gannon (Sullivan, 25), Byrne, Crowley, R Brennan; S Brennan, Mulvenna (Breen, 88).
Referee: Damien Hancock (Dublin)