Second-half strikes from Chris Forrester and Robbie Benson were enough to overcome Drogheda United and keep St Patrick's Athletic level on points with Shamrock Rovers atop the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.
It was a glorious evening in Dublin 8 as the sun shone and 1,000 people – the highest attendance here since March 2020 – brought noise, drums and colour back to the cubbyhole ground by the Camac river.
While no one could complain about the setting, events on the field were not always as enchanting.
Drogheda arrived unchanged from the side that drew 1-1 to Longford Town last week and sought to neutralise their opponents talent and frustrate proceedings.
That game plan worked as far as the hour mark, until the quality of Darragh Burns, Forrester and Benson eventually shone through, allowing the hosts to trap all three points in Inchicore.
The first chance of the game arrived for the visitors, courtesy of Darragh Markey, who previously spent six years learning his trade with St Pat's.
Crafting out a chance on the right wing he managed to drill a low cross towards Mark Doyle who rifled a shot just over the bar.
The hosts, however, had an even better chance to score just minutes later. Struggling for space at the edge of the box, Sam Bone swivelled and chipped a perfect cross onto the head of Burns.
The 18-year-old’s diving header flew just inches over the visitors’ goal.
That chance aside, Stephen O’Donnell’s side stuttered into the game. While Burns threatened with a spray of crosses from the right wing, Drogheda’s invasive pressing silenced the important midfield trio of Forrester, Alfie Lewis and Benson for most of the first half.
While they eased into proceedings, the Saints nearly snatched an opener on the stroke of half-time. Again it was Burns who was most dangerous for Pat’s, with his shot from the edge of the box just spinning the wrong side of David Odumosu’s goal.
While a cagey first half played into Drogheda’s favour, the Saints were left looking for excuses as to why they couldn’t find a path through their opponent’s press.
Heading pitchside to give his view to LOI TV at half-time, Brian Kerr directed genuine blame towards the stadium announcer and his frequent announcements for impeding on the match’s atmosphere.
Much to Kerr’s joy, the game’s next announcement arrived in the 61st minute to confirm Chris Forrester had finally given the Saints the lead.
Left back Jay McClelland floated a bullseye 35-yard pass to unleash Burns in the box. The pass could not have found a better player on the night as the Northern Irish underage international slipped the ball past the onrushing keeper for Forrester to turn home.
A goal down, Tim Clancy’s side sought to get the ball wide or over the top for the pace of Jordan Adeyemo to chase up front.
Adeyemo kept Lee Desmond and Paddy Barrett on their toes throughout the second half, but, ultimately the latter two’s defensive experience won out.
The Saints wrapped up all three points with 10 minutes remaining when Forrester unleashed Matty Smith through Drogheda’s back line. The Scottish striker charged into the box but saw his shot saved back out to Benson, who duly slotted the rebound in the far right corner.
For their part, Drogheda kept fighting but became increasingly tired as the sun set over their trip to Dublin 8.
At the end of the night, the stadium announcer was on hand once again, confirming the final score: St Patrick’s Athletic 2-0 Drogheda United. This time Brian Kerr was happy.
St. Patrick's Athletic: Vitezslav Jaros; Lee Desmond, Paddy Barrett, Sam Bone, Jason McClelland; Chris Forrester, Alfie Lewis, Robbie Benson, Daragh Burns (Ian Bermingham, 83); Billy King (Ben McCormack, 75), Matty Smith.
Drogheda United: David Odumosu; Killian Phillips (Dinny Corcoran, 81), Daniel O’Reilly, Dane Massey; James Brown, Gary Deegan, Luke Heeney (Jake Hyland, 64), Conor Kane; Darragh Markey, Chris Lyons (Jordan Adeyemo, 28), Mark Doyle (Ronan Murray, 64).
Referee: Derek Tomney