A sublime second half strike from substitute Cian Kavanagh saw Derry City take all three points in a hard fought 1-0 victory over St Pat's this evening in Inchicore.
With St. Pats in such red hot form coming into tonight’s game with five wins in their last five, Derry City manager Ruaidhri Higgins will be delighted to take maximum points back up the road this evening as it leaves his side two points behind Shamrock Rovers, the title race notching up a gear once more.
The defeat for St. Pat's, coupled with a Louth Derby win for Dundalk, means they trail the Lilywhites by five points in the battle for third spot - but with a game in hand.
Derry almost had themselves a dream start to the game with Michael Duffy showing Barry Cotter the pace that he would be up against for the duration of the game.
An inch perfect ball down the line from Ciaran Coll fell straight to the feet of Michael Duffy. Duffy showed blistering pace to ease past Cotter and on towards the edge of the box before flashing a ball right across the face of goal. McGonigle was the target but was inches away from the touch it needed. Warning signs from the visitors.
In a packed and blustery Richmond Park, the home fans had to be content with watching their side in defensive mode for much of the early stages with Michael Duffy, in particular, putting the Pat’s defence under huge pressure.
Despite Derry enjoying much of the early possession, it was Pat's who should have had the lead on fifteen minutes only to be denied by a heroic double save from Ireland U21 goalkeeper Brian Maher.
A fortunate deflection off the back of Coll fell kindly for Sam Curtis who flicked the ball towards goal just yards from the line.
Maher at full stretch pulled off an acrobatic last ditch save before smothering himself over the ball and gathering at the second attempt to somehow keep his goal intact.
As the first half progressed, the home side did start to settle into the game more in midfield but struggled to find the quality of service in the final third that an isolated Eoin Doyle was seeking.
Despite enjoying most of the ball in the opening half, Derry would have been very disappointed with their failure to really ask questions of Rogers despite their quality right across the pitch.
Both goalkeepers had to be sharp early in the second half as an entertaining game began to really open up. Mark Connolly had a gilt edged chance to put Derry in front just minutes after the rest only to be denied by the quick thinking Rogers in the Pats goal. Rogers pulled off an excellent save to avert the danger and keep the game scoreless.
Moments later, Eoin Doyle had an almost identical chance at the other end getting himself on the end of an excellent Joe Redmond cross. Redmond’s in-swinger looked to be travelling straight onto the head of Doyle but the Pat’s striker hesitated ever so slightly at the last minute with the on rushing Maher in his sights with the ball zipping across the pitch and out of play.
The game was now really hotting up in front of a huge Inchicore crowd and the home fans were on their feet on the hour mark with Chris Forrester forcing Brian Maher into an acrobatic save pushing the ball onto the bar.
With the chances coming thick and fast for both sides a goal seemed inevitable and come it did with twenty minutes remaining for Derry City courtesy of super sub Cian Kavanagh with a sublime strike.
The former St Pat's player was only on the pitch a matter of minutes when he picked the loose ball up close to the edge of the box before shrugging off the presence of Joe Redmond and rifling an unstoppable shot to the corner of the net.
An ill-tempered conclusion to what was a very entertaining game saw both Chris Forrester and Ryan Graydon sent off in the final minutes.
Forrester, booked moments earlier, took umbrage at Graydon's challenge on Grivosti and the pair spent the next couple of minutes needling at each other, even after being separated by the referee. Tominey eventually lost patience and brandished a red card to both players.
That was to be the final talking point in a game filled with quality but the most salient point is that Derry City move to within two points of Shamrock Rovers.
St Patrick's Athletic: Danny Rogers; Joe Redmond, Sam Curtis, Tom Grivosti, Harry Brockbank (Billy King 73); Chris Forrester, Barry Cotter, Serge Atakayi (Mark Doyle 58), Jamie Lennon, Adam O’Reilly; Eoin Doyle (Tunde Owolabi 79)
Derry City: Brian Maher; Cameron Dummigan, Ciaran Coll, Mark Connolly, Ronan Boyce, Cameron McJannet; Michael Duffy, Will Patching (Danny Lafferty 86) , Sadou Diallo (Joe Thomson 68), Patrick McEleney (Ryan Graydon 46); Jamie McGonigle (Cian Kavanagh 68)