Dundalk recorded their first win of the new SSE Airtricity League season in the most emphatic style imaginable, destroying Limerick 8-0 at a freezing Oriel Park on Tuesday night.
Braces from both Patrick Hoban and Michael Duffy along with goals from Robbie Benson, Stephen Folan, Karolis Chvedukas and Dylan Connolly ensured that the Lilywhites got their first win of the campaign in what was the club’s biggest winning margin since Stephen Kenny took charge in 2013.
The hosts almost took the lead as early as the second minute when Michael Duffy scampered down the left before squaring the ball to Ronan Murray, who somehow managed to miss from close range.
It wasn’t long before Dundalk did take the lead however, when Ronan Murray’s low cross was met by Patrick Hoban, who finished to score the first goal of his second coming at Oriel Park and Dundalk’s first in over three hours of football – a statistic hard to believe given what was to follow.
Dundalk doubled their advantage within a matter of minutes with Murray again involved, this time playing in Robbie Benson, who was left in acres of space before finishing superbly from the edge of the area with a curling shot with his left foot which flew past Limerick goalkeeper Brendan Clarke.
Hoban registered his second and Dundalk’s third before too long when he teased and tormented Limerick left-back Shane Tracy before unleashing a beautiful finish right into the bottom corner.
There was even enough time for a fourth just before the interval when Duffy’s corner from the right was met by the head of former Limerick defender Stephen Folan, who scored his first competitive goal for his new club having scored three times in pre-season with the hosts in scintillating form.
Clarke, who had a night to forget, did produce two magnificent saves in quick succession, first from Murray and then Hoban, who was eager to score what would have been his first hat-trick since 2013.
Dundalk looked like a team on a mission following scoreless draws in their opening two fixtures and continued to threaten with Duffy going close before Hoban hit the post from the edge of the area.
The hosts added even more goals when Karolis Chvedukas, who had only been on the pitch four minutes, scored on his debut when he fired home on the rebound after Murray’s effort had cannoned off the post before Duffy made it six with a left-footed shot from close range.
Limerick’s best chance of the night came when veteran Mark O’Sullivan’s effort from a corner was excellently saved by Gary Rogers, who made sure he kept a third clean sheet in as many games.
Dylan Connolly, who has been subject to much criticism of late, added a much-needed goal when he rounded Clarke and finished into an empty net before setting up Duffy, who tapped in to score Dundalk’s eight in stoppage time as Limerick’s misery was compounded on a night which is sure to give them nightmares for years to come.
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Daniel Cleary, Stephen Folan, Dane Massey; Dylan Connolly, Chris Shields (Karolis Chvedukas 60), Robbie Benson (Krisztian Adorjan 75), Michael Duffy; Ronan Murray, Patrick Hoban (Marco Tagbajumi 67).
Subs not used: Gabriel Sava, Sean Hoare, Dean Jarvis, Jamie McGrath.
Booked: Cleary (13).
Limerick: Brendan Clarke; Shaun Kelly, Killian Cantwell, Darren Dennehy, Shane Tracy; William Fitzgerald, Eoin Wearen (Tony Whitehead 61), Shane Duggan, Billy Dennehy; Colm Walsh-O'Loghlen, Connor Ellis (Mark O’Sullivan 61).
Subs not used: Tommy Holland, Killian Brouder, Alan Murphy, Jeff McGowan.
Booked: Kelly (83), O’Sullivan (87).
Referee: Paul Tuite
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Michael Duffy (Dundalk)