MARK ROSSITER scored a stunning opening goal to edge Bohemians closer to a 10th League of Ireland title as ragged St Patrick's, their now distant nearest challengers, finished with 10 men.
Strikers Glen Crowe and Jason Byrne added two more - and there was even a penalty miss by Killian Brennan - to give rampant Bohemians their eighth win in a row and extend their unbeaten league run to a staggering 23 games.
Now 16 points clear at the top of the table with eight games to play, it's not if Pat Fenlon's relentless team will win the league now, but surely by just how much.
With important games in the FAI Cup and Uefa Cup to come, this is a game injury-hit St Patrick's will want to quickly forget as they looked shapeless even before Derek O'Brien was sent off after just 28 minutes.
Rossiter's opener came on 48 minutes. With little on, the midfielder advanced down the inside-right channel and unleashed a thunderbolt of a right-foot drive that left goalkeeper Barry Ryan rooted to the spot as it flew across him to the top corner of the net.
With St Patricks scarcely getting out of their own half, Crowe punished a mistake to make it 2-0 on 57 minutes.
Ryans poor clearance was quickly played forward by Anto Murphy to put Crowe in on goal and he slid the ball past the goalkeeper.
Byrne added the third goal six minutes from time. Goalkeeper Brian Murphys clearance put fellow substitute John Paul Kelly away down the right and his cross was turned home by Byrne.
While Bohemians welcomed back Anto Murphy and Stephen ODonnell, St Patricks were badly hit, with injuries and suspension leaving them with no recognised left back. Worse still was playmaker Keith Fahey not passing a fitness test on a knee injury.
Manager John McDonnell thus strung five across midfield and it was no surprise his side looked a little disjointed from the start as Bohemians enjoyed the early possession.
If left-backs were scarce in the St Patricks camp before the game, they then effectively lost another one on 28 minutes. Derek OBrien had dropped back to play there in an early reshuffle to 4-4-2, but the former Galway United winger was shown a straight red card for a two-footed challenge on Murphy.
Bohemians wasted the chance of the half right on 45 minutes when missing a penalty. ODonnell scampered into the box from Fenns pass to be pulled down by Gary Dempsey.
But Brennan sent his penalty off the crossbar, the only occasion St Patrick's escaped.
© Irish Times