LIAM Coyle's 40th minute penalty, Eamon Doherty's header just after the break and Gareth McGlynn's glorious chip dented Shamrock Rovers' title hopes on a very wet night at the Brandywell.

It was Rovers' heaviest defeat of the campaign and leaves them with a lot of work to do if they're to keep pace with leaders Shelbourne at the top of the eircom Premier Division.

In fact, their position behind the Reds is now under threat - St Pat's will leap-frog Damien Richardson's side if they beat Bray Wanderers at Richmond Park on Friday night.

Coyle unerringly struck home the first goal from the spot for City after referee John Stacey ruled that Hoops centre-half Pat Scully had handled a shot by McGlynn.

Only seconds before that Coyle was denied a goal when he had an effort blocked, but he wasn't about to miss from the penalty.

Derry deserved to go in at the break with the lead because although they were playing into a strong wind, they put together the better attacking moves as the rain came down incessantly.

The Candystripes had also gone close with attempts from Darren McCready, who played excellently, and Jamie Hughes, who blazed over in the 38th minute.

Rovers were reduced to hitting the home side through set-pieces, and from one Billy Woods free Scully almost put the Hoops into the lead midway through the half - but Paddy McLaughlin cleared off the line.

With McLaughlin and Darren Kelly back in the centre of the City defence, Rovers were alway going to find goals hard to come by - and so it proved.

But Derry added to their total in the 47th minute when he latched onto a cross by McCready and headed beyond the reach of Tony O'Dowd in the Hoops goal.

Rovers went close to making it 2-1 when sub Tony Cousins fired over, but Jamie Hughes had an even better chance to make it 3-0 just after the hour mark when he raced onto a Sean Hargan through ball and struck a left-foot shot that seemed destined to find the far bottom corner - instead, it hit the upright.

McGlynn, though, did make it three in the 70th minute. Running onto a through ball by Floyd Gilmore, the youngster cheekily lobbed O'Dowd to embarrass the Dublin outfit still further.

Derry City: Payne; E McCallion, Kelly, McLaughlin, Hargan (McBride 84); Beckett, Doherty (McCaul 90), McGlynn, McCready; Hughes, Coyle (Gilmore 60).

Shamrock Rovers: O'Dowd; Deans, Palmer, Scully, Byrne (Cronin 77); Robinson, Colwell, Tracey, Woods; T Grant (Cousins 49), S Grant.

Referee: J Stacey (Athlone).