St. Patrick's Athletic climbed back to the top of the Airtricity Premier Division with a 1-0 win over Dundalk at Richmond Park on Friday night.
The Saints brushed aside Ian Foster's Dundalk side thanks to a goal from Paul Byrne in the first-half. Pat's fully deserved their win and played most of the game with just ten men after David McAllister's dismissal in the 34th minute.
The home side got off to the perfect start when they took the lead in just the fourth minute with a well worked goal, and after that they never looked back.
A cross from McAllister on the left-wing was headed down by Ryan Guy at the back post. The ball then fell to Derek Doyle and when his shot was blocked, Paul Byrne was on hand to fire home the rebound.
After losing their previous two league games against Shamrock Rovers and UCD, it was just the start the Saints desperately needed.
The Pat's defence played an instrumental part in their win, they faced an onslaught for the best part of 90 minutes and dealt admirably with everything that was thrown at them to force their ninth clean sheet of the campaign.
Pete Mahon will feel his team should have had a penalty in the 25th minute when a handball from Liam Burns went unnoticed by referee Declan Hanney. Unsurprisingly, Hanney wasn't the most popular man in Richmond Park.
Pat's were reduced to 10 men in the 34th minute, when midfielder McAllister was shown a straight red card for an off the ball altercation with Dundalk's Stephen Maher. The decision looked a bit harsh and infuriated Pete Mahon in the Pat's dugout.
Dundalk seemed to lack creativity in the first-half and never really troubled Gary Rogers in the Pat's goal. Their only really chance of the half came in the 38th minute but Wayne Hatswell drilled his effort straight at Rogers.
Dundalk hadn't scored a goal against St Pat's since 1998 and judging by their first-half performance it was easy to see why. The Lillywhites looked a shadow of the team that defeated Shamrock Rovers the week before.
However, Dundalk started the second half brightly and nearly pulled a goal back just two minutes after the restart. Shaun Kelly played a long ball down the left-wing towards Ross Gaynor, but his shot went just wide of Rogers' left-hand post.
The second-half lacked clear-cut chances. The ten men of Pat's clearly set up to protect what they had, but still managed chances themselves. David Mulcahy and Byrne had the best of their efforts.
Dundalk had their chances too and should have equalized again in the 79th minute when Maher found himself with a free header inside the box, but Rogers comfortably saved.
Dundalk failed to ever really get going and the Saints were fully worth of the three points, a haul which see them reclaim their place at the summit of the table on goal difference.
Pete Mahon's men take on Bray Wanderers on Monday night in the EA Sports Cup, probably not the ideal game to go into after a win like tonights. Momentum could very well turn out to be the key for the Saints.
St. Patrick's Athletic: Rogers; Lynch (Pender 34), Bermingham, Kenna, Guthrie; McAllister, S. Byrne, Faherty (Mulcahy 42), P. Byrne, Doyle (Coughlan 67), Guy.
Unused Substitutes: Connor, Williams.
Dundalk: Cherrie; Kelly, Hatswell, Miller (Cawley 65), Breen, Burns, Maher, Gaynor (Mulvenna 90), Melligan, Fenn, Kuduzovic.
Unused substitutes: Gregg, McGuigan, Breen.
Referee: Declan Hanney.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Stuart Byrne
Frankie Lally writes for a number of publications. You can contact Frankie on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/FrankieLally">@FrankieLally</a><br /><br />