Duffy wows Roy as Rovers loss heaps pressure on Bradley
Shamrock Rovers 2 Dundalk 5
Preston chief Peter Ridsdale is due at Lansdowne Road this evening to cast his eye over the latest potential export from the League of Ireland, Shamrock Rovers star Graham Burke, as he's expected to feature in the senior international friendly against the USA, with Preston very keen on the forward.
However, the potential loss of their talisman and main attacking outlet to England is only one of the major problems facing the Hoops as they slumped to another defeat, beaten 5-2 at home to a Dundalk side whose attacking play was at times impossible to deal with for the Rovers defensive unit.
Time and again, the goal manned by Canada international Tomer Chencinski was left wide open by the Rovers defence, this loss leaving the Hoops 20 points off second place.
A section of the home support have already made up their minds on the future of Rovers boss Stephen Bradley, a ready-made banner saying "It's not working out, enough is enough" unfurled at the final whistle to a backdrop of "We want Bradley out" chants.
It's hard to see how much difference Burke could have made as, once again, the problem for the Tallaght outfit is at the back.
Burke will get a cap at some stage against the USA this evening but Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane, in attendance last night, can only have been impressed with Dundalk, and the recruitment of ex-Northern Ireland U-21 cap Michael Duffy must be expedited.
Dundalk's success this season has been built on a very mean defence; three clean sheets in a row ahead of this game. But it took just three minutes for Rovers to break down that defence - Dan Carr with a scrappy-but-important goal for the Hoops.
Dundalk had only themselves to blame as Dane Massey's throw-in, in his own half, was dealt with sloppily - the ball falling to Brian Gartland whose touch forced keeper Gary Rogers into a save and Carr was on hand to score from the rebound.
The Hoops were dominant but an injury to Carr, forcing him off on 23 minutes, took the wind out of their sails and Dundalk grew in confidence and, on 37 minutes, they drew level thanks to top scorer Hoban.
A Greg Bolger defensive header did not go far enough after Robbie Benson had put the ball into the box and Duffy took possession and crossed for Hoban to head home.
Blood was spilled late on in the first half, Ronan Finn coming off worst in a clash of heads with his former team-mate Gartland.
Finn was forced to change his top for one which was not blood-stained, though he was unable to reappear for the second half.
Substitute Dave McAllister could have added bite to the Rovers midfield but it was the attacking side of Dundalk's midfielders, and the wide-open nature of the Rovers defence, which swung it for Stephen Kenny's men.
Dan Cleary was left unmarked to head home a Benson free on the hour mark and, four minutes later, the Rovers defence was again absent as left-back Massey advanced on goal and scored with relative ease.
Rovers did get back in the game on 70 minutes, Roberto Lopes stabbing the ball home after a shot by Joel Coustrain rebounded off the crossbar. Within seconds of the restart it was 4-2, McGrath latching on to a slack ball out of defence from Lopes and passing to Benson, who showed Chencinski no mercy with the finish.
There was more to come from a hungry Dundalk side, sub Krisztian Adorjan sliding the ball in for Benson to score his second and Dundalk's fifth.
Rovers now lie a stunning 20 points behind second-placed Cork City and it remains to be seen if Bradley can weather the storm and survive.
SHAMROCK R - Chencinski; Boyle, Grace, Lopes, Byrne; G Bolger; Coustrain, Finn (McAllister 46), A Bolger (B Kavanagh 70), S Kavanagh; Carr (Shaw 25)
DUNDALK - Rogers; Hoare, Gartland, Cleary, Massey; Benson, Shields; Connolly (A dorjan 67) McGrath (Chvedukas 87), Duffy; Hoban (Tagbajumi 89).
REF - B Connolly (Dublin)