Conan Byrne grabbed the headlines last weekend as he bagged all four goals as league leaders St Patrick’s Athletic made light work of Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium.
Liam Buckley’s side edged one step closer to the title but all three chasing sides kept up their challenge as Dundalk beat Shelbourne, Sligo Rovers beat Bray Wanderers and Derry City won away at UCD.
Team of the week
Dean Delany (Bohemians) Despite finishing on the losing side, Delany produced several second-half saves at Turner's Cross to keep Cork City out, including one breathtaking plunge low to his right to defy a close-range Danny Morrissey header with his fingertips. Desperately unlucky to see Morrissey finally beat him deep in stoppage time.
Conor Kenna (St Patrick’s Athletic) One of the main reasons that St Patrick’s Athletic are riding high at the top of the table, Kenna, once again, put in a polished performance as Saints kept Rovers scoreless. Kenna and partner Kenny Browne handled lively Shamrock Rovers centre-half Karl Sheppard with relative ease as keeper Brendan Clarke had relatively little to trouble him all evening.
Ger O’Brien (St Patrick’s Athletic) Part of a solid and settled back four as the Inchicore side push on towards a league title. Comfortable in defence, O’Brien was happy to attack down the right flank, allowing Conan Byrne to drift inside, and as a result, score four goals. O’Brien almost got on the scoresheet but his well-struck effort was saved by impressive Rovers second-half keeper Barry Murphy.
Stephen O'Donnell (Dundalk) The Dundalk skipper was central to everything good about his side going forward. His passing cut Shelbourne open time and again, while his incisive running earned his side an early penalty. A vital cog in the Lilywhites push for league honours.
Sean Brennan (Shelbourne) After a shaky first half, Brennan was Shels best performer after the break bringing a brilliant save from Dundalk keeper Peter Cherrie before his corner brought the Reds a late goal.
Michael Duffy (Derry City) The busy midfielder's clever pass set up Rory Patterson for the opening goal of the night. He then nipped in front of UCD defender Hugh Douglas to hammer home Simon Madden's cross for Derry's third and crucial goal.
Kieran Djilali (Sligo Rovers) The skilful Sligo winger was again involved in everything that was good about the Bit o'Red on Saturday night as Ian Baraclough’s side returned to third spot in the Airtricity League Premier Division with a 2-0 win over Bray Wanderers. Netting his fifth goal of the season, Djilali showed coolness and composure to finish past Darren Quigley on 49 minutes. The former Crystal Palace player has certainly shown in recent weeks that he has all the skills needed to be a top League of Ireland player.
Kieran Marty Waters (Bray Wanderers) Waters was a key cog in a Bray side who were unlucky to come away from The Showgrounds on Saturday night without reward for their stellar efforts. The pacey winger was a constant threat to the Sligo rearguard and went close to opening the Wanderers account himself on two occasions. Bray currently sit second from bottom in the Airtricity League Premier Division and will rely on Waters' calibre if they are to have any chance of survival.
Conan Byrne (St Patrick’s Athletic) The Saints winger is really back to the form that set the league alight playing for Sporting Fingal. Byrne showed great composure to slot home an early opener for St Pat’s at Tallaght and two subsequent penalties, before being in the right place at the right time to grab his fourth of the game following Barry Murphy’s world-class save from Anto Flood’s downward header. Byrne’s contributions could prove the decisive factor going into the business end of the season.
Danny Morrissey (Cork City) The young striker was a thorn in Bohemians' side throughout their clash at Turners' Cross. Wayward finishing, magnificent goalkeeping and the width of an upright looked set to frustrate his livewire efforts, but persistence brought its rewards when he nodded the last-gasp winner.
Rory Patterson (Derry City) Two well-taken goals from the league’s top scorer were the difference between the sides at Belfield on Friday night. Patterson’s astute movement created the space for the first goal - a cool finish slotted past Mark McGinley. Moments later, he volleyed in his second from Paddy Kavanagh's cross for his 16th of the campaign.