Dave Donnelly reports from Dalymount
Bohemians took an outright lead at the top of Premier Division table after coming out the right side of a typically feisty derby day encounter with Shamrock Rovers.
Dinny Corcoran scored for the third game on the trot, sending Alan Mannus the wrong way from the spot, as the Gypsies made it five wins from their last six meetings with their cross-town rivals.
Aaron Greene saw red in the first half for a hefty challenge on the outstanding Keith Ward, and the ten men couldn’t contain Keith Long’s side for a full hour.
In contrast to recent derbies between the sides, the game started without the usual scrappy football and both sides attempted to play it through feet.
Rovers, with Sean Kavanagh on the left side of a back three, looked to create space with intricate, one-touch passing and had some early success.
One wing back, Trevor Clarke, found another in Ethan Boyle to set up the first chance, but James Finnerty rushed out bravely to block Aaron McEneff’s shot.
Rovers recycled the ball back to Kavanagh, and the defender strode forward and let rip from distance, and keeper James Talbot gathered at the second attempt.
The Gypsies should have taken the lead midway through the first half as Ward’s corner was flicked on to Darragh Leahy, but he headed straight at Mannus from point blank range.
The game wasn’t long in turning in their favour, however, when Greene was shown a straight red after appearing to go over the ball and catch Ward with his studs on the shin.
Things got worse for the Hoops when Ethan Boyle was forced off with a hamstring injury, forcing a reshuffle in defence that saw Joey O’Brien to right wing back and Roberto Lopes into the fray.
Corcoran has started the season in flying form and he showed power and deft skill to dispossess Greg Bolger and skip inside two challenges before driving over the bar.
Rovers introduced Dan Carr for Jack Byrne at the break as they looked to gain a foothold up front, and they nearly went ahead within ten minutes as Dylan Watts’ cross zipped past the post.
Moments earlier, Luke Wade-Slater should have put his side in front as he found himself free in the box from Ward’s cross, but his header flashed across the far post with Mannus beaten.
Bohs dominated the game with the extra man, with Ward’s range of passing stretching the Hoops from side to side, and it was no surprise the midfield man was heavily involved in the goal.
A patient period of passing ended with Wade-Slater sliding in Ward down the left, and he drifted past Ronan Finn, who grabbed enough of the playmaker’s shirt to concede the penalty.
Still, Rovers almost forced an equaliser shortly afterwards as Lee Grace’s header was deflected towards his own goal by Conor Levingston, but Talbot showed good reactions to claw it away.
The former Sunderland youth has big gloves to fill at Dalymount Park following Shane Supple’s retirement, and this was his third clean sheet in as many league games.
Ward could have capped off a peerless performance with a goal of his own, a brilliant first touch setting up a shot blocked by O’Brien, and he blazed the rebound over.
To their credit, Rovers continued to press in the final minutes and Mannus spent much of the six minutes of injury time in the opposition box.
The final chance fell to the goalkeeper as Sean Kavanagh swung an inviting cross to the back post, but it was just too high for the Northern Irishman and the whistle blew moments later.
Bohemians: James Talbot; Derek Pender, Rob Cornwall, James Finnerty (Aaron Barry 77), Darragh Leahy (Paddy Kirk 64); Keith Buckley, Conor Levingston, Danny Mandroiu; Luke Wade-Slater, Keith Ward (Ali Reghba 81), Dinny Corcoran.
Subs not used: Niall Corbet (gk), Robbie McCourt, Scott Allardice, Sam Byrne.
Booked: Conor Levingston (33), James Finnerty (72), Dinny Corcoran (84), James Talbot (90).
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Joey O’Brien, Lee Grace, Sean Kavanagh; Ethan Boyle (Roberto Lopes 37), Greg Bolger, Aaron McEneff, Dylan Watts (Ronan Finn 60), Trevor Clarke; Jack Byrne (Dan Carr 46), Aaron Greene.
Subs not used: Leon Pohls (gk), Sam Bone, Brandon Kavanagh, Orhan Vojic.
Booked: Sean Kavanagh (61), Ronan Finn (66), Roberto Lopes (69).
Sent off: Aaron Greene (29).
Referee: Robert Harvey.
Attendance: 3,500 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Keith Ward (Bohemians).