Madden gets Bohs moving upward as Lilies routed
MAYBE now, just maybe, this league will start to take some kind of normal shape.
After an altogether unpredictable start to the season, often bordering on the plain bizarre, the top of the Airtricity League table returned to some degree of normality last night.
Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers, the two favourites at the beginning of this season, drew level on points just a single point from the top and suddenly it looks like 'game on' between the two fierce Dublin rivals, who battled it out almost to the bitter end last term.
The Gypsies made it three wins on the trot at Dalymount Park with a convincing victory, while also placing serious questions over the capability of Dundalk to sustain their early-season form.
The Lilywhites deserved nothing from last night's tie and maybe it was frustration boiling over from the bench when substitute Michael McGowan came off the bench 83 minutes in only to be sent off barely 60 seconds later for a ludicrous lunging tackle on Raffaele Cretaro.
Both teams looked rather rusty early on after the league's two-week break, with the two sides belying their usual football principles early on as a result.
Bohemians, generally renowned for their clinical disposal of lesser teams when presented with the opportunities, were showing an uncharacteristic ineptitude in the final third.
Mark Quigley showed his usual industry and almost opened the scoring nine minutes in when he hit the crossbar with a cross-cum-shot, but otherwise it was a catalogue of misses.
They would have been leading by a country mile at half-time if they were playing in the Gaelic code of football, as Quigley, then Paddy Madden, then Owen Heary all blazed over the bar from good striking positions.
In between, Bohs' former 'keeper Matt Gregg had to be at his best when Madden curled in an inviting cross and found the lurking Gareth McGlynn at the back post, but he was closed down superbly by Gregg.
Dundalk, meanwhile, had seemingly abandoned the passing ethos that has become synonymous with Ian Foster's reign, constantly reverting to the long ball to little effect.
The best Dundalk could muster in the first half was a fourth-minute header from Neale Fenn and the closest they came to hitting any sort of target came when young defender Ciaran McGuigan's high looping clearance dropped straight into a rubbish bin in front of the Jodi stand, prompting the biggest cheer of the night from the otherwise unmoved crowd.
Maybe the fame went to his head, but McGuigan was caught napping for Madden's goal when he stretched but failed to connect with Aaron Greene's cross, leaving the 21 year-old with all the time in the world to slot the ball home and relieve the building tension at Dalymount.
While never sustaining any real pressure on the visitors, Bohs never looked troubled and it was a crazy moment four minutes before the end that handed them the chance to double their lead.
McGowan emerged straight from the bench and in the first play after his introduction, he swiped Raffaele Cretaro off his feet to earn himself an early bath.
To add insult to injury for the Louth side, Ruaidhri Higgins swept home the resulting free-kick before McGlynn tucked home a third to finish the rout.
BOHEMIANS -- B Murphy, Rossiter, Heary, Oman, Powell; McGlynn, Keegan, Higgins, Quigley (Dixon 90); Greene (Cretaro 64), Madden.
DUNDALK -- Gregg, Kelly, McGuigan (Cawley 68), G Breen, Hatswell; Melligan, Maher, Gaynor; Kuduzovic, Fenn, Gaynor (McGowan 83).
REF -- A Kelly (Cork).