Saint Patrick's Athletic maintained their one point lead at the top of the Airtricity League Premier Division table thanks to Stephen Maher's first half winner against Shelbourne at Inchicore on Friday night.
In a first half that was played in bright sunshine, the home side had claims for a penalty in the 11th minute. Killian Brennan went down in the area after a challenge from Stephen Hurley, however, referee Paul McLaughlin didn't give anything.
Shelbourne looked comfortable for most of the first half and they had a couple of chances of their own. In the 22nd minute Sean Brennan took a corner from the left and Brendan Clarke punched clear. But it only reached Glenn Cronin outside the area and the Shels captain took a shot which wasn't far wide.
Indeed on the half hour mark the visitors will feel that they should have taken the lead. After fine build up play involving Lee Murtagh, Stephen Hurley crossed from the left. He found Dean Kelly free in the six yard box. Kelly looked certain to score but somehow Brendan Clarke blocked his shot with his body.
Shels were made to pay for that miss 10 minutes later as the league leaders went in front. Greg Bolger played a fantastic crossfield ball from left to right to Conan Byrne who got inside Derek Doyle. Niall Burdon came off his line before Doyle made the tackle. The ball broke to Maher, who put it into the empty net from about 20 yards out to give Pat's the lead.
They nearly added a second just before half time when Anto Flood advanced towards the edge of the area and chipped it over Burdon but the ball just went over the crossbar.
In the 57th minute Pat's had another chance. Chris Forrester showed terrific skill on the right edge of the area before playing it back to Stephen Maher. Maher scuffed his first shot but got a second bite of the cherry. He eventually shot wide from eight yards out.
Around the midway point of the second half the home side had a couple of chances in the space of a minute. First off, Forrester hit the ball across the face of goal and moments later substitue Christy Fagan fired wide from the edge of the area.
However, the visitors continued to be a threat from set pieces. In the 70th minute the home side failed to properly clear a corner and Graham Gartland headed the ball back into the danger area with Derek Doyle waiting in space. He tried to turn and volley it towards goal but missed his kick.
Then in the 75th minute left back Ian Bermingham played a nice little ball in from the edge of the area. Conan Byrne, playing against his former club, dived in low to get his head to it but the ball just ended up on the wrong side of the net.
Shels came close again from a corner seven minutes from time as Sean Brennan picked out Robert Cornwall who was free in the area and the defender tried his luck with a volley but it was too high.
Saints defender Ger O'Brien then found himself in space and got his shot away but Niall Burdon came out to block his shot. Just a minute later Burdon dived low to his right to deny Killian Brennan from a free kick.
Both sides were guilty of giving the ball away in a frantic final few minutes. Shelbourne threw Gartland forward but couldn't create a chance. Liam Buckley's side held on for the win which keeps them a point clear of Dundalk at the top of the table.
Saint Patrick's Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Ger O'Brien, Kenny Browne, Conor Kenna (c), Ian Bermingham; Conan Byrne, Greg Bolger, Stephen Maher (Sean Gannon 85), Killian Brennan, Chris Forrester (Jake Kelly 82); Anthony Flood (Christy Fagan 61).
Subs not used: Rene Gilmartin, Aidan Price, Lorcan Fitzgerald, Daryl Kavanagh
Booked: Bolger (8).
Shelbourne: Niall Burdon; Robert Cornwall, Graham Gartland, Ian Ryan, Derek Doyle; Adam Hanlon Glenn Cronin (c), Stephen Hurley (Gareth O'Connor 72), Sean Brennan; Lee Murtagh (Jamie McGlynn 58), Dean Kelly (Darren Tinnelly 79).
Subs not used: Charlie Treacy, Brian Gannon, Paul Andrews, Carl Walsh.
Booked: Cronin (42).
Referee: Paul McLaughlin.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Ian Bermingham (Saint Patrick's Athletic).