Dundalk returned to winning ways as they comfortably overcame St Patrick’s Athletic 4-0 at Richmond Park on Thursday night.
Stephen Kenny’s men came into the game on the back of a home defeat against Cork City last week while Pat’s were on a three game winning streak, however the Lilywhites simply overpowered the Saints, with goals from Stephen O’Donnell, David McMillan, Daryl Horgan and Brian Gartland.
It was St Pat’s who controlled the early proceedings with Graham Kelly and Keith Tracey getting Billy Dennehy and Mark Timlin involved from the off as they spread the ball from left to right.
However despite the Saints' pressure it was Dundalk who struck first with their first opportunity. Captain O’Donnell caught Shane McEleney in possession at the back before advancing in on goal and keeping his nerve to slot the ball beneath Brendan Clarke to give the Lillywhites the lead inside ten minutes.
Chris Shields found Sean Gannon sprinting forward from his full-back position. Gannon took the ball past Ian Bermingham before squaring it to John Mountney whose first time effort fizzled just off target.
18 minutes in Pat’s had their first chance. David Cawley laid the ball off to Keith Treacy whose powerful 30-yard strike was inches from reaching the target.
Christy Fagan then forced a fine save from Gary Rogers when he pulled his shot across the goal only for Rogers to tip it wide. Rogers, who recently trained with the Irish Senior squad, did well to get low and push it around the post.
The Saints were now looking likely to grab an early equalizer with Fagan again coming close soon after with his shot on the turn skimming Rogers’ post.
Cawley slipped Timlin in on the right side, and his cross found Fagan. He tried to direct his header towards the bottom left corner but again it just missed the mark.
At the other end Horgan almost doubled Dundalk’s advantage. He received the ball at the edge of Pat’s box before embarking on a menacing run towards goal. His dummy fooled Tracey which allowed him the space to get a shot away, however, it rolled wide.
Five minutes before the break Pat’s were caught at the back for a second time. Billy Dennehy’s heavy touch allowed Gannon to intercept. He passed it across the face of goal into the feet of Kilduff but his shot was weak and Clarke easily gathered.
There was time for two more chances in quick-succession before the half-time whistle. Horgan swung a dangerous cross onto Andy Boyle’s head from a free-kick but it was knocked out for a corner.
Horgan then delivered another wicked ball across the box which met the head of Kilduff but it was stopped on the line and Clarke dove to smother it into his clutches before a Lilywhite could pounce.
Fagan was denied the opportunity to claim his fifth goal in five games as he was replaced by Dinny Corcoran at the break after picking up a knock in the first half, and Pat’s certainly missed his influence throughout the remainder of the game.
Liam Buckley’s side began the second 45 as they did the first, taking charge of the play, knocking the ball around confidently and forcing some early corners. Darren Dennehy came close on the hour mark when he rose to meet Timlin’s in-swinger, however his header glanced wide.
Soon after, Timlin, who was in flying form throughout the evening, showed some nimble footwork to beat both O’Donnell and Dane Massey before unleashing a shot which was just off target.
McMillan was then introduced to the Richmond Park crowd and he made an immediate impact. Barely 90 seconds after coming onto the pitch he was played through on goal by Horgan and he nestled it into the bottom corner to grab Dundalk’s second of the night.
Following the goal, Dundalk began to take control and added a third five minutes later. Horgan picked up the ball at the edge of the box and powered a left footed drive into the top of the net to deservedly put his name on the scoresheet,
Massey came close to making it four when his spectacular curling free-kick was tipped over the bar by the outstretched arms of Clarke.
In stoppage time it was four as Gartland leaped high to nod in a Massey free-kick to bring the three points back to Oriel Park to the delight of the large travelling support.
At Patrick's Ath: Brendan Clarke; Ger O’Brien, Darren Dennehy, Shane McEleney, Ian Bermingham; Mark Timlin, David Cawley, Keith Tracey (Sam Verdon 76), Graham Kelly (Conan Byrne 68), Billy Dennehy; Christy Fagan (Dinny Corcoran 46).
Subs not used: Patrick Jennings (gk), Dylan McGlade, Michael Barker, Jason McGuinness.
Bookings: Keith Tracey (22), Graham Kelly (43).
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Andy Boyle, Brian Gartland, Dane Massey; Chris Shields, Stephen O’Donnell, John Mountney, Ronan Finn (Robbie Benson 76), Daryl Horgan (Darren Meenan 84); Ciaran Kilduff (David McMillan 62).
Subs not used: Gabriel Sava, Shane Grimes, Patrick Barrett, Ciaran O’Connor.
Bookings: Andrew Boyle (75) Darren Meenan (87).
Referee: David McKeon.
Extratime Man of the Match: Daryl Horgan (Dundalk).