Rovers stroll to overdue victory with dominant derby show
Shamrock Rovers 3 St Pat's Athletic 0
The pressure was on Shamrock Rovers heading into a week consisting of two Dublin derbies.
A run of just one win in nine league games meant that Stephen Bradley's side entered this match 20 points behind leaders Dundalk.
More worryingly, they had fallen seven behind a fifth-placed St Patrick's Athletic team that arrived here on a four-match winning run.
Missing out on a Europe would be disaster for the Tallaght club; finishing outside the top half of a ten-team league would be catastrophic for Bradley.
Form went out the window here, with the hosts by far the better side. Indeed, the only problem for Bradley is that displays of this quality make their position in the table all the more inexplicable.
They looked superior to the Saints, with a clever tactical plan allowing them to gain revenge for last Friday week's defeat at Inchicore which was influenced heavily by Joey O'Brien's dismissal.
Bradley fielded a narrow midfield shape that allowed Rovers to rule in the roost in that department. Ronan Finn was advanced in a 4-2-3-1 and he unsettled Saints youngster Jamie Lennon, who can normally conduct proceedings from his deep berth.
Greg Bolger and Sam Bone outshone Darragh Markey and Ryan Brennan - both of whom were eventually taken off - and the foundations were laid for success.
The quality of Graham Burke and Dan Carr was required to see it through, however. Burke was playing off the right side on his third outing in just four headspinning days.
He came down to earth from Sunday's adventure in Celtic Park by sending in a 15th-minute corner that was dispatched by Lee Grace. The dead ball delivery is just one aspect of his technical excellence.
English striker Carr can play a bit too and his movement and trickery tormented Saints' centre-halves Lee Desmond and Kevin Toner. And he was pivotal for the second goal just before the interval, receiving a pass from sub Joel Coustrain and teeing up Finn who stabbed home.
The Saints were missing first-choice 'keeper Barry Murphy as his partner is having a baby, and it was a rough evening for his replacement Tyson Farago. Pat's were below-par generally and shoddy set-piece work allowed Bone to fire in a third before the hour mark. Like Grace, he was scoring a first for the club.
Bradley was able to afford the luxury of withdrawing Burke, who will link back up with the Irish squad on Saturday morning after participating in Friday's crunch encounter with Bohemians at Dalymount Park.
That is the derby match where Bradley really has scores to settle. This was the perfect preparation.
Shamrock Rovers - Chencinski, Boyle, Lopes, Grace, Kavanagh; Bone (McAllister 58), G Bolger; Burke (Byrne 65), Finn, Miele (Coustrain 25); Carr.
St Patrick's Athletic - Farago, Madden, Toner, Desmond, Bermingham; Lennon; C Byrne, R Brennan (Kelly 62), Markey (Fagan 55), Keegan (Doona 45); T Byrne.
Ref - R Rogers (Dublin)