John Mountney heads Dundalk FC in front against Limerick FC tonight. (Pic: Ciarán Culligan)
SSE Airtricity League Premier Division
Limerick FC 0-3 Dundalk FC
Dundalk FC kept up their unblemished record at the new Market's Field tonight with a facile three-goal victory over Limerick FC, scoring thrice for the third consecutive game at the venue.
John Mountney, Patrick Hoban and Michael Duffy were the goalscorers as The Lilywhites - who led 2-0 at the break - put the home side to the sword for the second time this season following the 8-0 triumph at Oriel Park in February.
Right from the kick-off, the gulf in class between the sides was evident. Indeed, while the visitors maintained their place at the Premier Division summit, the Shannonsiders, on this performance, and following Bray's victory over Shamrock Rovers last night, now look in serious danger of being reeled in by the basement side. That is if their form doesn't dramatically improve in the coming weeks.
Dundalk FC's John Mountney is congratulated by Patrick Hoban and Chris Shields after opening the scoring. (Pic: Ciarán Culligan)
It was a night of many high points for Stephen Kenny, who was able to welcome Gary Rogers and Seán Hoare - in for the injured Daniel Cleary - back into the starting line-up following injury absences, while Mountney was handed his first league start since last August's game away to Derry City.
And it was the Mayo man who put Dundalk in front on eight minutes, nodding Duffy's teasing cross past Limerick 'keeper Brendan Clarke at the back post.
From that point onwards, with the home support becoming less and less patient with their side's display, The Lilywhites dominated despite the pitch being far from receptive to free-flowing play.
Dundalk FC's Stephen Folan beats Connor Ellis of Limerick to the ball in tonight's match. (Pic: Ciarán Culligan)
The inevitable second strike came on the half-hour when good play between Jamie McGrath and Seán Gannon saw the latter find Robbie Benson who picked out Hoban for his seventh goal of the season.
With the points sewed up by the break, Dundalk quickly added their third - on 54 minutes - through Duffy. The winger gave former Lilywhite Shaun Kelly no end of problems - before the Limerick man was withdrawn just shy of the hour - and he was left in acres of space to drill home from just left of goal.
Limerick offered some attacking intent in the second half with Connor Ellis twice finding the target without causing Rogers any problems, however, Dundalk came closest to extending their advantage when substitute Dylan Connolly's toe-poke was hacked off the line.
The victory - Dundalk's eighth of an unbeaten campaign - extends their lead over third place Derry to six points ahead of their meeting at Oriel Park on Friday night. Second place Cork City also won tonight, scoring a 1-0 triumph at home to Sligo Rovers; a result which sees the gap between the top two remain at two!
Seán Gannon of Dundalk is tackled by Limerick's Cian Coleman at The Market's Field. (Pic: Ciarán Culligan)
Limerick FC: Brendan Clarke; Shaun Kelly (Karl O'Sullivan 59), Tony Whitehead, Killian Brouder, Kilian Cantwell; Will Fitzgerald, Conor Clifford, Cian Coleman (Barry Maguire 83), Shane Duggan (Eoin Wearen 56), Billy Dennehy; Connor Ellis
Subs not used: Tommy Holland (gk), Colm Walsh-O'Loghlen, Shane Tracy
Dundalk FC: Gary Rogers; Seán Gannon, Seán Hoare, Stephen Folan, Dane Massey; Chris Shields, Robbie Benson (Stephen O'Donnell 73); John Mountney, Jamie McGrath, Michael Duffy (Dylan Connolly 79); Patrick Hoban (Marco Tagbajumi 64)
Subs not used: Gabriel Sava (gk), Brian Gartland, Dean Jarvis, Ronan Murray
Referee: Damien McGrath (Mayo)