FOUR-GOAL hero Conan Byrne (pictured) believes that Friday's stunning Dublin derby win for St Patrick's Athletic away to Shamrock Rovers is payback for his club's recent struggles against Rovers – and is also a statement of the Inchicore club's intent to land the league title this season.
Saints fans travelled to Tallaght with some trepidation given that Rovers outclassed Pats 3-0 at the venue in the second game of the season, but those supporters enjoyed an amazing night as Byrne scored four times, twice in each half, to defeat a Rovers side which finished with nine men due to red cards for defender Derek Foran and winger Seán O'Connor.
"We owed them one," Byrne told the Herald. "It's great for the fans, the players were all buzzing for them because we know what Friday meant to them, we had great support in Tallaght and they sang right through the game.
"The talk before the game was that we owed them one, from the time they beat us 3-0 in Tallaght at the start of the season. We didn't perform and didn't do ourselves justice, we talked before the game on Friday and said that we hadn't beaten Shamrock Rovers this season, so we wanted to go out and change that, and that showed in the first few minutes when we got the goal.
"Rovers did play well after we scored and they had us on the back foot but once we got to 2-0 we were comfortable and they had no way back," added Byrne, aware that Pats needed the win to stay top of the table ahead of Dundalk , while Sligo Rovers are just four points behind.
"It is a statement of what we want to do this season, winning 4-0 in Tallaght is a big statement of intent from us," added Byrne.
"We won't let ourselves get carried away though, we have Shels next weekend and we know that they are fighting for their lives. We're fighting for the league, they're fighting for survival so that should be a massive game for both clubs.
For Byrne, Friday was a career highlight. "That's my first time to score four in a game, even more so given the opposition and where the game was played, it was a big night for myself," he says.