Stephen Kenny watched his side lose a second home game of the season tonight (Pic: Ciaran Culligan)
SSE Airtricity League Premier Division:
Dundalk 0-3 Cork City
The champions elect pipped the champions at Oriel Park tonight; it's now fair to assume the Airtricity League crown will be residing on Leeside come the winter months.
Eighteen-points separate the teams in the table while Sean Maguire's hat-trick was the difference in the game. However, it could have been much, much more had Cork shown more of a killer instinct in front of goal.
The Lilywhites never got going with the Rebels simply bossing proceedings. Indeed, neither Stephen Kenny nor his charges can have any qualms over the result.
Cork's opening goal arrived on 19 minutes when Maguire deflected a ball across from Karl Sheppard to the net from inside the six-yard box.
John Caulfield's men dominated the remainder of the half, peppering Gary Rogers in the home goal with crosses and shots. Sheppard, Gearóid Morrissey and Ryan Delaney unleashed efforts in the process, with the latter's header having been cleared off the line by a mixture of Rogers and Jamie McGrath five-minutes after the Rebels had taken the lead.
The Lilywhites spent much of the half chasing the ball, although had Dane Massey made satisfactory contact with Michael Duffy's corner in first-half stoppage time he would surely have equalised. But, having been afforded the freedom of the penalty area, the ball skimmed off the left-back's head and out of danger.
His frustration, and Dundalk's in general, was palpable.
Chances fell for both sides upon the resumption with Maguire's speculative 35-yard shot forcing Rogers into action before McGrath cut inside from the left for Dundalk - Oriel Park arose in anticipation of a leveller - however, the winger screwed his shot horribly wide despite the goal gaping.
The hosts had further chances, most significantly when David McMillan headed wide from inside the six-yard area. Chances they had to take and ones they were ultimately made to pay for missing .
Maguire struck twice more - firstly on 70 minutes when he nodded a John Dunleavy cross past Rogers before he made it 3-0 in stoppage time by shooting to the roof of the net from close range; finishing the scoring, finishing the contest and as much as finishing the title race in one fell swoop.
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Seán Gannon, Paddy Barrett, Niclas Vemmelund, Dane Massey; Chris Shields (Stephen O’Donnell 68), Robbie Benson; Michael Duffy (Ciaran Kilduff 74), Patrick McEleney, Jamie McGrath (Thomas Stewart 65); David McMillan
Subs not used: Gabriel Sava (gk), Brian Gartland, Conor Clifford, Sean Hoare
Cork City: Mark McNulty; John Dunleavy, Alan Bennett, Ryan Delaney, Kevin O’Connor; Conor McCormack, Gearoid Morrissey (Greg Bolger 83); Karl Sheppard (Steven Beattie 80), Jimmy Keohane, Stephen Dooley (Shane Griffin 76); Seán Maguire
Subs not used: Alan Smith (gk), Achille Campion, Connor Ellis, Garry Buckley
Referee: Paul McLaughlin