Shamrock Rovers' decision to travel to the North West a fortnight ago to face Finn Harps whilst the rest of their League of Ireland counterparts took an early-season breather, continues to look like a stroke of genius after Stephen Bradley's men cruised to their sixth successive victory in the competition, on what was a great night for the Tallaght side at Turner's Cross.
First-half goals from Sean Kavanagh and Aaron McEnuff put Rovers in the driving seat in Cork, and despite Dan Casey pulling a goal back for City before half-time, McEnuff reestablished the two-goal cushion just past the hour, the Dubliners eventually running out 3-1 winners.
To cherry-top their evening, champions and nearest challengers Dundalk went down 1-0 to St Pats at Richmond Park. Dan Cleary's own goal on the stroke of half-time proved to be the settler in Inchicore. That now puts ten points between the sides at the head of affairs.
UCD picked up an impressive home win over Waterford, the students running out 4-1 victors in South Dublin, but there's no doubt, the big action of the night was at Finn Park, as Harps and Derry City played out the first north-west derby of the season. And it wasn't for the faint-hearted.
Derry would eventually run out 3-2 winners, with all five goals coming in the second half but the game's most controversial moment came in the first period when Harps defender Colm Deacy decided to leave something, and a bit more, on Donegal man and former Harps captain Ciarán Coll.
All the goals and a shocking red-card challenge from Finn Park as @derrycityfc beat @FinnHarpsFC #rtesoccer pic.twitter.com/vMiAMBK1Iw
— Soccer Republic (@SoccRepublic) April 5, 2019
You might want to turn volume up to 100 for that, then again, you might not. Coll was taken immediately to hospital with a suspected broken leg and his manager did not hold back during his post-match presser.
I thought it was horrendous. I thought it was a really, really bad tackle. Hopefully Ciarán's OK.
I'm disappointed thats some of the Finn Harps fans are cheering, seeing a player that gave ten years service to their football club; cheering him coming off on a stretcher I thought was a bit poor.
Look, we'll just concentrate on Ciarán and hopefully he'll be OK, after visiting the hospital for X-rays.
The Candystripes took the lead early in the second half with youngster Adrian Delap firing past Ciaran Gallagher on the spin, but the home side drew level despite their numerical inferiority with sixteen minutes to go after former Derry striker Nathan Boyle finished well from a cross from the right.
But it would be the Brandywell outfit who would eventually outlast their Foyleside rivals.
David Parkhouse headed home with seven minutes to go, before capitalising on a God-awful howler by Gallagher in injury time to put two between the sides. There was time, however, for Mikey Place to slot a consolation penalty for the Donegal men in the dying breaths of a hard-hitting encounter.