Odhrán Crumley reports from the Brandywell Stadium
Dundalk inflicted Derry City's first defeat at the newly redeveloped Brandywell in devastating fashion.
It was the hosts who raced into an early lead thanks to a wonder strike from defender, Darren Cole in the 12th minute of the game.
Brian Gartland headed home an equaliser before a brace from Michael Duffy and one from substitute Krisztián Adorján secured a 4-1 victory and sent Dundalk to the top of the table.
Dundalk shaded the early exchanges as both sides strived to implement their passing games.
The first real effort of the game came in the eighth minute as Michael Duffy stood over a free kick and curled the ball around the wall, forcing Gerard Doherty to dive to his right and pull off a wonderful save.
Former Derry City man Duffy swung in the corner which was deflected into the path of Patrick Hoban but the ball flashed off his head and over the bar.
Ronan Hale really should have given Derry City the lead with 11 minutes played as Nicky Low found Rory Patterson, who in turn played in Hale with a wonderful back-heel.
Gary Rogers raced off his line and Hale struck the shot straight at the Lilywhite stopper, who was more than up to the task.
Less than 60 seconds later, Derry won a corner which Aaron McEneff would send into the area. Dundalk headed clear but only into the path of Darren Cole on the edge of the area.
The Scottish defender's strike was hit with real purpose, rifling into the roof of the net to put the Candystripes into the lead.
Midway through the first half, Gerard Doherty came to his sides rescue once again. Duffy’s corner was met on the volley by Seán Hoare, forcing Doherty to make an eye-catching stop.
However the pressure would ultimately pay off as Jack Doyle deflected a Robbie Benson shot away for a corner.
Duffy sent the corner in towards the front post to meet the run of Brian Gartland, who headed into the net to restore parity.
Derry heads visibly dropped as six minutes later, Chris Shields, Robbie Benson and Duffy were all involved in a smooth passing attack.
Benson played the killer pass in behind to find Duffy, who rounded Doherty before slotting into the empty net as Stephen Kenny’s men came from behind to lead 2-1 at the break.
The next goal would be crucial and Derry had a chance. Ronan Curtis beat two men down the left before playing infield to Aaron McEneff but Hoare was on hand to block.
Five minutes into the second half, Low;s corner was cleared by Benson towards Duffy. He opted to carry the ball before unleashing a fine effort below Gerard Doherty into the bottom corner for his second of the game.
Both sides made changes as the game grew scrappy, with Derry growing desperate and Dundalk happy to hold their lead.
There were ten minutes to play when Ronan Curtis beat three men down the wing only to be stopped by a sensational Gartland sliding challenge as he cut infield, stopping a sure goalscoring opportunity.
Kenny Shiels’ men would have two chances from free kicks but neither Patterson nor McEneff could do anything but hit the wall.
In injury time Krisztián Adorján put the icing on the cake for the visitors as he sent a rasping effort into the bottom corner of the net after being set up by fellow substitute Marco Tagbajumi.
The sound of Neil Doyle’s whistle came soon after, putting Derry out of their misery and confirming Dundalk’s return to the top of the league table.
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Jack Doyle (Ben Doherty 69), Gavin Peers, Eoin Toal, Darren Cole; Conor McDermott, Aaron McEneff, Nicky Low; Ronan Curtis (Nathan Boyle 86), Rory Patterson, Ronan Hale (Jamie McDonagh 60).
Subs not used: Eric Grimes (gk), Cathal Farren, Jamie McIntyre, Niall Logue.
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; George Poynton (Dean Jarvis 64), Brian Gartland, Seán Hoare, Dane Massey; Dylan Connolly (Krisztián Adorján 82), Robbie Benson, Chris Shields, Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban (Marco Tagbajumi 88), Jamie McGrath.
Subs not used: Gabriel Sava (gk), Sam Byrne, Stephen Folan, Ronan Murray.
Booked: Chris Shields (30).
Referee: Neil Doyle.
Attendance: 2,500 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Michael Duffy (Dundalk).