St. Patrick’s Athletic closed the gap at the top of the Airtricity League Premier Division to six points with a 2-1 win over Shamrock Rovers, whose season is quickly sinking through the floor.
Pats dominated early doors and were two goals ahead inside the opening ten minutes.
Five minutes had been played when the first talking point of the game arrived. Bolger played a through ball for Seán O’Connor on the inside right channel, he cut inside but his shot deflected off Colin Hawkins, a deflection that referee Neil Doyle adjudged to have been a handball and the penalty was given. Hawkins and Stephen O’Donnell were both booked for their protests but O’Connor kept his cool to slam the ball past Oscar Jannson from the spot.
Pats improved on that great start with the second goal of the game barely two minutes later. Jake Carroll dribbled past two Rovers defenders inside the box before his shot deflected off the unlucky Hawkins, leaving Jannson stranded in the visitors’ goal.
Rovers tried to get back into the game but they found Barry Murphy in impressive form in the home goal, particularly when he saved brilliantly from Ciaran Kilduff from point blank range midway through the first half.
Pats dominated the majority of the play though with Christy Fagan missing a glaring chance deep inside the Rovers’ box just before the half hour mark and Kelly forced Jannson into a good save early in the second half.
Rovers got the lifeline their play had seldom deserved when they reduced the deficit with twelve minutes to go. Gary McCabe collected the ball 30-yards out and struck an piledriver into the top left corner, giving home ‘keeper Murphy no chance.
The Hoops pushed for an equalizer in the closing minutes and they nearly got in injury time but Kilduff’s header came back into play from the home side’s goalpost in a crowded penalty area.
Overall a deserved win for the Saints, but Rovers’ fighting spirit towards the end will give them hope of clinching a European place from their five remaining league games this season.
Saint Patrick’s Athletic (4-5-1): Murphy; O’Brien, Flynn, Kenna, Bermingham; O’Connor (Meenan 64), Carroll, Chambers (Coombes 82), Bolger, Kelly; Fagan (Faherty 72).
Shamrock Rovers (4-5-1): Jansson; Gannon, Sives, Hawkins, O’Connor; McCabe, Finn, O’Donnell (Greene 62), Brennan, Dennehy; Kilduff.