Dundalk FC's Michael Duffy in action against St. Patrick's Athletic tonight. (Pic: Ciarán Culligan)
SSE Airtricity League Premier Division
Dundalk FC 5-0 St. Patrick's Athletic
Dundalk FC returned to the top of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division at Oriel Park tonight.
Patrick Hoban's double and goals from Ronan Murray, Michael Duffy and Jamie McGrath dispatched the challenge of St. Patrick's Athletic in front of 2,086. Indeed, courtesy of Shamrock Rovers' victory over Cork City at Tallaght Stadium, The Lilywhites return to the table's summit on score difference.
In a game of numerous chances, it took Dundalk until the second half to make their superiority count having missed a host of openings before the break. Hoban brought the best out of St. Pat's 'keeper Barry Murphy inside five minutes, while he struck off target on three further occasions before the short whistle.
However, the half's most gilt-edged opportunity fell the way of Liam Buckley's men and they really ought to have capitalised. After Dean Clarke had squeezed past Seán Hoare on the left flank, the winger saw his goalbound drive deflected in by the offside Jake Keegan. It was a major let-off for The Lilywhites, who went close through Duffy on a couple of occasions too.
The second half, however, was a completely different story as the hosts took the lead inside a minute. Hoban, with his fifth effort of the night, saw his powerful shot deflect off the diving Kevin Toner and wrong foot the helpless Murphy to make it 1-0.
And, within six minutes, the Galwegian put two between the sides, controlling a loose ball to score beneath the 'keeper for his ninth goal of the season.
The chances continued to fall the way of the winners and Murray made it 3-0 just past the hour-mark, shooting high to the net after Hoban had selflessly teed him up.
Duffy - with the goal of the night - bent home Dundalk's fourth seven minutes from time before he laid the fifth on a plate for Jamie McGrath.
On a night where The Lilywhites picked up their ninth league win of the season, the only sour note came when substitute Sam Byrne was withdrawn after only four minutes having picked up a hamstring injury.
Dundalk FC: Gary Rogers; Seán Hoare, Brian Gartland, Daniel Cleary, Dean Jarvis; Stephen O'Donnell, Robbie Benson (Chris Shields 80); John Mountney, Ronan Murray, Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban (Sam Byrne 73) (Jamie McGrath 77)
Subs not used: Gabriel Sava (gk), Dane Massey, Dylan Connolly, Krisztián Adorján
St. Patrick's Athletic: Barry Murphy; Simon Madden, Lee Desmond, Kevin Toner, Ian Bermingham; Jamie Lennon; James Doona, Darragh Markey, Graham Kelly (Michael Leahy 73), Dean Clarke (Conan Byrne 76); Jake Keegan (Thomas Byrne 69)
Subs not used: Brian Maher (gk), Michael Barker, Ian Turner, Killian Brennan
Referee: Paul McLaughlin (Donegal)