Saints show title pedigree
Shamrock Rovers 0 St Patrick's Athletic 2
After two wins from two derby games in the space of five days, St Patrick's Athletic will feel entitled, for the moment, to claim the title of top dogs in Dublin.
But on the basis of last night's 2-0 win away to Shamrock Rovers, thanks to a headed goal on either side of the half-time break, Liam Buckley's outfit can feel entitled to be considered as contenders for national honours as well as local ones this season.
The first side to beat, and score against, Rovers this season, Pats kept their heads after a slow enough start to the game and showed steely resolve to stay in front once Billy Dennehy put them ahead shortly before half time.
Rovers, who had a 100% record before last night, were second best and while they will complain about a decision by referee Tomas Connolly on 55 minutes - he had awarded a penalty to the Hoops but changed his mind and gave a goal kick in response to Ian Berrmingham's challenge on Simon Madden' - Rovers can have few quibbles.
Confidence in the Hoops camp ahead of their first local derby of the season was high, the first time in the club's history that they began the season with three successive wins and clean sheets. Just before the half-time break that clean sheet record was gone thanks to Dennehy's headed goal but Rovers had enough of the ball, though perhaps not enough chances, to be in front themselves.
Simon Madden, probably Rovers' most reliable player over recent seasons, was a constant threat with the rampaging runs down the wing which caused one of his previous managers to compare him to Dani Alves.
Madden carved out his side's first opening on 11 minutes but no one was on hand to make the cross count though Danny North got on the end of a Madden ball on 33 minu, that effort going out for a corner.
It was Gary Shaw who would force the first save of the game, from Brendan Clarke, on 11 minutes but Shaw's next effort was well off target, and a clever Shaw flick on 38 minutes set up Danny North, the best move of the game so far.
Pats had been quiet for most of the first half, Buckley's side happy to absorb the pressure, though a Billy Dennehy cross to Christy Fagan on 43 minutes was a sign of their growing confidence. It was Dennehy then who scored against his former club to give Pats the lead second before half time,
Another player who is technically an ex-Hoop - Christy Fagan played one game, on trial, for Rovers before he joined Bohemians - came up with another headed goal for the Saints on 51 minutes, that previously-reliable Rovers defence absent as Fagan rose to head home Mark Timlin's cross.
Four minutes later, Rovers thought they had a way back into the game when that clash between Madden and Bermingham led to the awarding of a penalty but the ref listened to his assistant's advice and bravely gave the decision the other way. Rovers threatened little after that, subs Dean and Trevor Clarke trying to spark life into the attack but Brendan Clarke claimed a second clean sheet in a week.