Dundalk equalled their biggest win of the season at Oriel Park on Friday night with a 6-0 thrashing of woeful St Patrick’s Athletic, who slumped to their joint-heaviest league defeat since 1974.
The game was turned on its head on the stroke of half-time when St Pats, who looked well organised in the opening 45 minutes, conceded a penalty which was then scored by David McMillan.
That was followed by McMillan’s second goal of the night and 18th of the season before Sean Gannon, Robbie Benson, Dylan Connolly and Thomas Stewart heaped further misery on the side from Inchicore.
Perhaps another turning point of the match came when the outrushing Barry Murphy was injured after just eight minutes following a collision with McMillan, which saw the vastly experienced netminder stretchered off to be replaced by Polish goalkeeper Lukasz Skowron, who was to endure a rude introduction to League of Ireland football on his league debut.
While the hosts did enjoy the lion’s share of possession in the first half, Skowron wasn’t really called into action until the 39th minute when he got down well to save from a Michael Duffy shot before McMillan’s back-heel was blocked on the line by Lee Desmond as Dundalk began to turn the screw.
Jim McKell – the referee that controversially awarded Bray Wanderers two penalties on his last visit to Oriel Park back in April – this time pointed to the spot in favour of the Lilywhites after Desmond was adjudged to have brought down McMillan in the box following Connolly’s ball from the right.
St Pats, who worked so hard to keep the three-in-a-row champions at bay in the opening 45 minutes, were understandably aggrieved by the decision and left-back Ian Bermingham was given his marching orders in the aftermath before McMillan duly dispatched from 12 yards out.
McMillan added a second to double Dundalk’s advantage just two minutes later when he headed home from a Duffy corner to score his 50th league goal for the club – the Templeogue native is now just 20 goals behind the great Joey Donnelly as the club’s record scorer in the League of Ireland.
The visitors spurned a glorious opportunity to get back into the game shortly after the restart when Graham Kelly was found in space but he shot wide in what was a rare opening for Liam Buckley’s side and Dundalk inevitably punished them through the impressive Gannon, who raced in from the right before guiding his classy finish past Skowron for his second goal of the season.
Much of the Oriel Park faithful thought McMillan had completed his hat-trick but he somehow fired wide after latching on to Patrick McEleney’s through ball and Skowron then denied both Conor Clifford and Benson before Duffy’s follow up hit the woodwork as Dundalk went in search of a fourth.
That fourth goal did arrive when Duffy – who seems to be getting better and better with each passing match – set up Benson, who tapped in after only being on the pitch for four minutes.
The electric Connolly made it five with an excellent finish to score his first goal for the club since signing from Bray.
St Pats' misery was complete when Stewart, another substitute, put the icing on the cake for the Lilywhites when he fired home on the rebound after Sean Hoare’s header had come off the crossbar as Stephen Kenny’s side made it six wins from six in all competitions.
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Sean Hoare, Shane Grimes; Dylan Connolly, Conor Clifford, Chris Shields (Robbie Benson 56), Michael Duffy (Steven Kinsella 74); Patrick McEleney, David McMillan (Thomas Stewart 68).
Subs not used: Gabriel Sava, Niclas Vemmelund, Carlton Ubaezuonu, Dean Watters.
St Patrick’s Athletic: Barry Murphy (Lukasz Skowron 13); Michael Barker, Jordi Balk, Lee Desmond, Ian Bermingham; Conan Byrne (Rory Feely HT), Owen Garvan, Paul O’Conor (Jonathan Lunney 61), Billy Dennehy; Graham Kelly, Christy Fagan.
Subs not used: Darragh Markey, Ian Turner, Kurtis Byrne, Josh O’Hanlon.
Booked: Kelly (23), Balk (62).
Sent Off: Bermingham (45+1).
Referee: Jim McKell.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: David McMillan (Dundalk).