This contest, as intriguing as it was, never quite lived up to its billing. Not that John McDonnell will care having seen his side regroup after a sluggish start to nab full points, opening a five point lead over their opponents in the process.
Colm Foley's header sealed matters but Drogheda can feel hard done by. They grafted admirably throughout but eventually succumbed to a St Patrick's side much improved on their woeful first half offering.
In fact neither side demonstrated the free-flowing football that has typified their respective seasons. St Patrick's, in particular, were badly out of tune early on, squandering possession with sloppy passing and aimless balls forward.
With Joseph Ndo and Alan Kirby sidelined, their midfield lacked the creativity of previous performances. The onus, then, was on Keith Fahey to provide a spark, yet he was well marshalled throughout the first half.
Drogheda, contending with a string of injuries themselves, were not much better in the opening exchanges but steadily improved and eventually lorded possession.
Stephen Bradley's intelligent distribution served the visitors well and he soon woke team-mates from their slumber.
Shane Robinson and Eamon Zayed were most responsive, linking well and eager to stretch a home defence that was rapidly retreating.
St Patrick's, once unshackled, found midfield particularly difficult to negotiate and resorted to direct football. Unattractive and rarely profitable yet it afforded Mark Quigley room to tease.
But despite the striker's endeavour, those in support let him down all too often. As it was, Drogheda's rearguard was solid if not watertight and the fact that unit went untested before the break frustrated the home support.
The visitors, buoyed by Stuart Byrne's early attempt which required a crucial Barry Ryan intervention, were hitting their stride by this stage.
While their chances thereafter were far from clear cut, the approach work was eye-catching and set the tone.
One such incident saw Robinson a yard off connecting with Glen Fitzpatrick's measured cross. Was it not for Stephen Paisley nipping at his heels, the winger would surely have tested Ryan from close range.
But St Patrick's emerged revitalised for the second half with Fahey stepping up his input. Twice he went close from distance, the second a free that blazed inches wide with Mikko Vilmunen scrambling.
Tellingly, his saved his most crucial intervention until the 80th minute. His fizzing free was headed home in a crowded box by Foley, the strike inflicting Drogheda with their first league defeat.
© Irish Times