Dundalk get timely tonic as Cork are dismantled
Dundalk 4 Cork City 0
Traffic issues forced this game to start late. Chaos in the Cork defence ensured that it was over early.
The kick-off was put back by 15 minutes to give the visitors from Leeside extra time to prepare after they were delayed getting to Oriel Park.
By half-time, they must have wished they were back home already as they lost their unbeaten record and their place at the top of the table in humiliating fashion.
Dundalk sit on the summit this morning after tearing John Caulfield's charges to shreds, dismantling a rearguard that hadn't conceded a goal on their travels this season until this fixture.
They shipped three in a torrid opening half as the Lilywhites bounced back from a surprise loss in Bray last week to produce arguably their best performance of the campaign.
Stephen Kenny devoted his programme notes to captain Stephen O'Donnell who will miss the rest of the league season after sustaining cruciate ligament damage against Shamrock Rovers a fortnight ago.
O'Donnell will be badly missed, yet Kenny can take heart from how John Mountney performed next to Richie Towell in the centre of the Dundalk midfield with Chris Shields providing the defensive cover.
Mountney set the tone with a powerful run at the heart of the Cork defence that almost created a third-minute opener for Pat Hoban.
His shot missed the post by inches, but Dundalk continued to press and seized the initiative in the ninth minute with their dominance illustrated by the fact that centre half Andy Boyle was able to stride forward and join the attack.
The stand-in skipper's through ball found Mountney, who swivelled and scooped the ball over the head of Mark McNulty.
Dundalk sensed vulnerability in the Cork ranks and went looking for a second which they found after nine more minutes.
This time around, the invention of Darren Meenan orchestrated the situation with his short corner gleefully headed past McNulty by Pat Hoban.
The imposing Galwegian has had a mixed start to the new campaign but he was on song here and added another before the break when he timed his run perfectly to meet a Richie Towell cross on the run and nod it into the bottom corner.
That was game-over, with Cork, who barely tested Peter Cherrie, on a mission to restore pride from that juncture with Caulfield hooking Garry Buckley and John Kavanagh at the interval.
Dundalk refused to drop down the gears initially, however, and wizardry from Towell extended their advantage within five minutes when he collected a corner and smashed home a 'goal of the month' contender from 20 yards with his right foot.
Unsurprisingly, Dundalk were unable to maintain that intensity and Kenny withdrew Hoban, Mountney and Meenan in the final quarter, perhaps with an eye to next Saturday's Setanta Cup final against Sligo Rovers in Tallaght.
Dundalk – Cherrie; Gannon, Boyle, Gartland, Massey; Shields; Meenan (Byrne 80), Mountney (Griffin 75), Towell, Horgan; Hoban (McMillan 71).
Cork City – McNulty; Lenihan, Murray, D Dennehy, Dunleavy; Morrissey; Kearney, Buckley (Davoren 45), Kavanagh (Lehane 45), B Dennehy (O'Leary 58); O'Sullivan.
Referee – P Tuite (Dublin).