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Saints get the better of Shamrock Rovers after O'Brien sending off

St Pat’s were 2-0 winners over the Hoops tonight.

Ian Bermingham and Conan Byrne celebrate Pats' first goal.
Ian Bermingham and Conan Byrne celebrate Pats' first goal.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

St Patrick’s Athletic 2

Shamrock Rovers 0

Ben Blake reports from Richmond Park

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC moved level with Shamrock Rovers after picking up three points in tonight’s South Dublin derby.

Joey O’Brien’s red card at the end of the first half was a turning point in the game, and Liam Buckley’s men hit the front through Kevin Toner soon after the interval, before substitute Killian Brennan made sure of the victory with a late penalty.

The Saints, who were on the receiving end of a 5-0 drubbing from Dundalk earlier in the week, brought Ryan Brennan and Conan Byrne back into the side in place of the benched James Doona and Graham Kelly.

Rovers earned a confidence-boosting 3-0 win over the champions Cork City on Monday night — their first in six — and Stephen Bradley’s only change saw Dan Carr return to replace Gary Shaw up front after serving his suspension.

That meant once again deploying five at the back, built around the centre-half trio of O’Brien, Roberto Lopes and Lee Grace.

Pat’s put their opponents under early pressure during the opening minutes, and defensive partners Desmond and Toner came close to making contact with their heads from an inviting corner.

But Rovers soon got into their groove with some neat passages of play around the backline and middle of the park. Sean Kavanagh fizzed a shot wide, while Pat’s keeper Barry Murphy had to save Carr’s drilled effort.

Ryan Brennan tackled by Joey O'Brien O'Brien's challenge on Brennan. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Five minutes before the half was out, however, the visitors found themselves a man down. O’Brien, who had been excellent up to that point, dived in rashly on Ryan Brennan near the halfway line — resulting in a melee involving several players and both benches.

Referee Graham Kelly had initially reached for his yellow card, but seemingly changed his mind and, moments later, dished out the red.

Tempers flare during the game Scenes on the sideline just before O'Brien was sent off. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

With a numerical advantage, Pat’s came out strongly after the break. When Byrne’s shot fell to the feet of Brennan, he fired just wide of Kevin Horgan’s post.

And, 11 minutes into the second half, the hosts opened the deadlock. Toner got his head onto a corner at the back post to put the ball back into the danger area. It may have took a touch on its way in, but confusion from the Rovers defence allowed it to creep over the line.

When substitute Thomas Byrne was fouled in the box on 90 minutes, the returning Killian Brennan, only on the field, tucked it away against his former club before celebrating in front of the travelling Hoops fans.

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Barry Murphy; Simon Madden, Lee Desmond, Kevin Toner, Ian Bermingham; Jamie Lennon; Conan Byrne, Darragh Markey (Killian Brennan 82), Ryan Brennan (Graham Kelly 87), Dean Clarke; Jake Keegan (Thomas Byrne 84).

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Kevin Horgan; Ethan Boyle, Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace, Joey O’Brien; Greg Bolger, Aaron Bolger (Brandon Miele 74), Sean Kavanagh, Ronan Finn (Brandon Miele 81), Graham Burke; Dan Carr (Gary Shaw 70).

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Ben Blake

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