St Patrick’s Athletic won Dublin derby bragging rights with a 2-0 victory over Shamrock Rovers at Richmond Park on Friday night.
Kevin Toner and Killian Brennan scored for the Saints in the second half as they moved level with Rovers on 21 points – 13 behind league leaders Cork City.
The Hoops stunned the champions with a 3-0 win in Tallaght on Monday but were lethargic throughout this game, in which they rarely threatened the home side.
Former Ireland international Joey O’Brien was shown a straight red card for a heavy tackle on Ryan Brennan late in the first half – an incident that saw the two benches clash.
There was little to choose between the sides as half time approach, with both sides limited to half-chances.
Lee Desmond and captain Ian Bermingham both went close from inviting Conan Byrne deliveries – Pats’ most likely route to goal in the first half – Ryan Brennan saw his header saved.
Rovers’ best opportunities arrived on the break, with Daniel Carr’s hold-up play leading to a chance for Sean Kavanagh, but he pulled his shot wide from inside the box.
Carr himself had a chance when Simon Madden was caught in possession by Graham Burke, but his effort was straight at Barry Murphy in the Saints goal.
The game’s major turning point came five minutes before the break as O’Brien – playing on the right of a back three – gambled on reaching a loose ball in midfield.
Ryan Brennan quickly moved the ball past the defender but was caught heavily and late by the former West Ham United player.
Referee Graham Kelly initially issued a yellow card before consulting with his officials and changing the verdict to a straight red.
Pat’s kicked on in the second half and should have led when Ryan Brennan found himself free inside the area, but with just keeper Kevin Horgan to beat he curled a shot wide.
It wasn’t to matter as they soon hit the front due to a defensive calamity as Rovers defenders left Toner’s header to one another and watched it drift into the net.
And former Hoop Killian Brennan made sure of the points in the final minute from the penalty spot after Kavanagh had committed a foul in the area.
“The sending-off was obviously critical in relation to the performance, but I think we deserved the win,” Saints boss Liam Buckley told the Dublin Gazette.
“I would have liked our general play to be better and to have created a little bit more. With the chances, we were clinical with the ones we got. It’s great to get the three points from where we’re at.”
Rovers manager Stephen Bradley said: “We started really, really slow and didn’t pass the ball. We settled down after about 20 minutes and then the sending-off set us back again”.
On O’Brien, he added: “Has he gone in with his studs over the ball?
“No. I don’t think it was nasty. I don’t think he’s gone over the ball with studs or anything, but he’s given it so we have to accept it.
“The disappointing thing is he had the yellow card in his hand and for some reason he’s changed it last minute.”