Shamrock Rovers continued their march towards a 19th League of Ireland title as they strolled past a dreadful Sligo Rovers at Tallaght Stadium.

Danny Mandroiu and Aaron Greene provided the goals as the Hoops stretched their lead over second place St Patrick's Athletic to twelve points.

Derry City’s win over the Saints also means the Candystripes move to within just one point of the under-par Bit O’Red, who look likely to soon slip out of the top three for the first time since the opening day of the season.

Both sides came into this game in contrasting league form and it was the Hoops, with eight wins from their last ten, who spent the majority of this tie in cruise control.

Richie Towell fired over early on, before Mandroiu gave the home support a taste of what was to come as he pushed his side in front after ten minutes.

The former Bohemians man easily robbing Sligo skipper David Cawley and with the opposition defence standing off him, Mandroiu nonchalantly slipped the ball past Ed McGinty for his tenth league goal of the season.

The visitors were dealt a blow on 19 when they were forced to withdraw Robbie McCourt due to injury and only the crossbar got in the way of the Dubliners doubling their advantage moments later - Lee Grace nodding Dylan Watts’ corner onto the woodwork.

Barry Cotter has impressed since arriving at Shamrock Rovers mid-season

McGinty, a shining light in what was a dark night for Sligo, showed a strong wrist to keep out a Ronan Finn drive from the angle just short of the half hour. While Cawley fizzed a rare Sligo effort wide of Alan Mannus’ goal on 31.

Stephen Bradley’s charges justifiably doubled their lead one minute later.

Mandroiu’s run drew three Sligo defenders towards him before he slipped in Greene. The once Sligo striker capitalising on the space as he supplied a sumptuous, chipped finish to double the champions’ lead.

Sligo, with just two wins in their last ten league outings, did muster a chance to cut the deficit before the break.

Finn reacting in time to block down Lewis Banks’ stab at goal from close range after Mannus had spilled Andre Wright’s cross.

Both camps made a raft of changes at the start of the second half.

Sligo’s half-time substitute Johnny Kenny heading straight at Mannus after the re-start.

While Hoops change Neil Farrugia had a penalty call turned down mid-way through the half. The ball falling to Towell at the edge of the box in the same move, but the former Dundalk play-maker’s shot from the outside of the boot was dealt with by McGinty.

Sligo then turned up an opportunity which would have at least, kept things competitive going into the final stretch as Mark Byrne headed Walter Figueira’s cross straight into the gloves of the waiting Mannus.

Both Rory Gaffney and Roberto Lopes went close to making things more comfortable for the champions elect in the closing changes. Lopes forcing another really impressive stop from McGinty, while the same man rattled the crossbar from the resulting corner.

The Hoops struck the frame of the goal on a third and fourth occasion. Gaffney hitting the bottom of the far post after Sligo were easily opened on the counter. While Farrugia knocked another one off the crossbar on the turn in added time.

Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Lee Grace, Roberto Lopes, Sean Gannon; Ronan Finn (Sean Hoare 65), Barry Cotter (Neil Faruggia 65), Richie Towell, Dylan Watts (Chris McCann 65), Gary O’Neill (Sean Kavanagh 72); Danny Mandroiu (Rory Gaffney 77); Aaron Greene

Sligo Rovers: Ed McGinty; Lewis Banks, John Mahon, Garry Buckley, Robbie McCourt (Regan Donelon 19); Seamas Keogh (Johnny Kenny HT), David Cawley (Colm Horgan 63), Adam McDonnell; Melvyn Lorenzen (Mark Byrne 63), Walter Figueira; Andre Wright (Romeo Parkes 63)

Referee: Rob Hennessey