IT WAS a bad day for the punters over at Cheltenham and those predicting a two-horse race for the Airtricity League title may well be hedging their bets this St Patrick's morning.
With just two games played in a season that promised so much for Shamrock Rovers, they have already fallen five points behind arch-rivals Bohemians after they fell to a Dublin derby defeat in their first home game of the season at Tallaght Stadium last night.
Despite dominating the first half in front of a 5,500 crowd, they failed to create any clear chances, as the absence of the injured Gary Twigg and Dessie Baker was sorely felt up front. While Graham Barrett huffed and puffed up front on his own, he was fighting a losing battle and the quicker Michael O'Neill finds an emergency striker -- likely to be former Derry man Thomas Stewart -- the better.
Crowd congestion caused a 10- minute delay to the original kick-off time of 8.0, but it was congestion in the middle of the park which gave Rovers the edge in the opening half, as their five-man midfield crowded out their opponents and left the Saints chasing shadows.
The swirling wind put paid to the visitors' long balls but, on the rare occasion that they did work their way through the middle, they met with little success.
James Chambers was at the centre of everything good for the Hoops and he should have done better when presented with an opportunity 15 minutes in.
Chambers latched onto the loose ball and, via a lucky deflection off Shane Guthrie, he found himself with only 'keeper Gary Rogers to beat. However, the former Drogheda United man blazed wide.
St Pat's barely had the ball in the final third for the whole of the first half, but when they did get their chances in the second, they capitalised. They succeeded where Rovers failed on 57 minutes when Ian Bermingham whipped in a beautifully flighted free-kick.
Conor Kenna rose above the rest and, although he failed to make contact, he did wrong-foot Alan Mannus and the ball curled straight inside the Northern Irish international's far post.
The visitors doubled their lead just three minutes later from an almost identical position. Damien Lynch belted an out-swinger into the box and Vinny Faherty ghosted in front of his man before powering a header past the helpless Mannus for the clincher.
The game was delayed mid-way through the second half when a fan came on the field and got involved in a scuffle with some of the Pat's players, but it was the only action of the half in their penalty area as they took to the league summit.