Dundalk made it two wins from two in the SSE Airtricity League with the champions sending out a powerful message to any potential challengers for their crown after recording an emphatic 4-0 win over Sligo Rovers at The Showgrounds on Saturday night.
An accomplished performance which certainly didn’t lack integrity, Stephen Kenny’s side quite simply ran riot as goals from Patrick McEleney, Michael Duffy, Ciaran Kilduff and Thomas Stewart saw Dundalk go top of the table, albeit after just two games.
Sligo and Dave Robertson on the other hand would’ve been very concerned by what they witnessed, especially on the back of last week’s thrashing at the hands of newly promoted Limerick which means the Bit O’Red currently sit bottom having conceding an alarming nine goals in their opening two matches.
The game started slowly, though Gabriel Sava was almost caught out when the evergreen Raffaele Cretaro beat the outrushing Dundalk netminder to the ball but his cross was cut out by Paddy Barrett in what was a lucky escape for the visitors.
Dundalk were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position not long after that when Robbie Benson was fouled by Sligo captain Craig Roddan as the rain began to lash down at The Showgrounds.
Perhaps that should’ve been taken as a sign of things to come for the hosts as up stepped McEleney, who curled his sublime effort into the top right hand corner past a motionless Shaun Patton to give Dundalk the lead after 12 minutes.
That set the tone for the rest of what was to be a miserable night for Sligo and they could’ve fallen even further behind when McEleney’s exceptional pass set Benson on his way but his effort skimmed agonisingly wide of the post in almost slow motion.
The inevitable second goal did come ten minutes before the break when Barrett’s long punt out of defence somehow found its way to Duffy, who beat the offside trap and showed great composure to open his account for his new club.
Jonah Ayunga fashioned what was Sligo's only real effort in the entire match when he fired well over from a Daniel Kearns corner.
Ayunga got himself embroiled in a battle with defenders Barrett and Brian Gartland throughout the night, picking up a yellow card for elbowing the latter not long after the restart and the forward received his second booking and marching orders for an unnecessary lunge on Barrett with about 25 minutes to play.
Dundalk indeed added a killer third through Kilduff when he headed home from a Sean Gannon cross following some wonderful play from substitute Jamie McGrath and the champions were now in cruise control.
Kenny then introduced new signing Stewart, who spent the last few years in the United States, and he too got himself on the scoresheet barely three minutes later after bundling in at the second attempt following a neat pass from Benson.
Ben Connolly called time on what was a long night for the Sligo faithful with a small percentage booing their side at the full-time whistle and based on this evidence, it could also be a long season for the Bit O’Red who suffered their worst home defeat since 2009.
Sligo Rovers: Shaun Patton; Tobi Adebayo-Rowling, Michael Leahy, Kyle Callan-McFadden, Regan Donelon; Daniel Kearns (Kieran Sadlier 62), John Russell, Craig Roddan, Liam Martin; Raffaele Cretaro (Matthew Stevens 77), Jonah Ayunga.
Subs not used: Edward McGinty (gk), Gary Boylan, Chris Kenny, Mikey Place, Jack Keaney.
Booked: Russell (25), Martin (33), Ayunga (52 and 66).
Sent Off: Ayunga (66).
Dundalk: Gabriel Sava; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Paddy Barrett, Niclas Vemmelund; John Mountney (Jamie McGrath 71), Conor Clifford, Robbie Benson, Michael Duffy (Steven Kinsella 83); Patrick McEleney, Ciaran Kilduff (Thomas Stewart 79).
Subs not used: Ben Kelly (gk), Emmet Hughes, Chris Shields, Keith Dalton.
Referee: Ben Connolly.
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: Michael Duffy (Dundalk).