Dundalk hit eight past Limerick to claim first win of new season
Dundalk 8 Limerick FC 0
BEFORE kick-off at Oriel Park, the PA announcer told fans to hold onto their tickets in case snow forced an abandonment.
Within a few minutes of kick-off, it became clear that a match ending blizzard was Limerick’s only hope of escaping defeat.
This was almost too comfortable for Dundalk, a stroll that tackled the notion that the new 10 team league will be devoid of easy fixtures.
The quick turnarounds are exposing the clubs with stretched resources and, in Limerick’s defence, they had a day less to prepare for this fixture after Saturday’s draw with Bohemians on a heavy Market’s Field surface.
On a snow laden Oriel Park pitch, they were unable to put up any resistance as Dundalk left behind their barren start to the campaign to get some shooting practice in.
They needed a trouble free night with champions Cork City already setting a healthy pace. It sets the Lilywhites up nicely for a challenging trip to the Brandywell on Friday, although the elements will have a big say in whether that fixture goes ahead.
After 180 minutes without a goal, Stephen Kenny’s side scored two in the opening ten minutes here to remove any stress from proceedings. Six more would follow for what is their biggest margin of victory under Kenny.
Once a tractor had cleaned up visibility of the white lines, their path to success was clear.
An orange ball was also produced. Dundalk got more use out of it from the outset and both of their early strikes came from decent passages.
For the deadlock breaker, Robbie Benson threaded the ball through for Ronan Murray who squared for Patrick Hoban with the striker grabbing the first goal of his second stint.
Benson then got off the mark for the campaign by engineering a one-two with Michael Duffy and squeezing the ball past Brendan Clarke.
This set up a long night for Limerick, and the small band of away fans in the exposed away section who continued to sing away in the biting temperatures on the countdown to the long trip home.
It was a struggle for the travelling players to keep their spirits at the same level as the one way traffic continued.
Hoban looked rusty at times in Friday’s draw with Shamrock Rovers and this was a considerable improvement, although tardy Limerick defending aided the confidence boosting process.
He added his second following an elaborate build-up, dragging Shane Tracy one way and then the other before angling a left footer beyond Clarke.
As if confirmation was required, Limerick knew it wasn’t their night when a penalty shout by William Fitzgerald was waved away by Paul Tuite.
Rookie boss Tommy Barrett took over in less than ideal circumstances – manager Neil McDonald resigned on the first day of pre-season – and a four point return from their first two games was credible.
Owner Pat O’Sullivan has spoken of the need for new investment to help him out, a contrast from Dundalk’s situation with a new American consortium running the show.
The difference was exposed with Barrett down a few bodies here – their bench only included six subs – and the inadequacies were brutally apparent. The fourth came just before the half-time whistle with ex-Limerick player Stephen Folan rising highest to divert a corner into its intended destination.
Limerick’s second half mission was therefore about emerging with a scoreline that was somewhat respectable, and keeper Clarke was the main player in this regard. He denied Murray and Hoban with fine stops before the hour mark.
Kenny opted to utilise his bench and Karolis Chvedukas was brought in for a competitive debut, a player that is no stranger to Baltic temperatures seeing as he’s a Lithuanian international.
Ironically enough, his first meaningful appearance of the campaign was delayed by the flu. He made up for lost time by blasting the fifth past the helpless Clarke when a Murray shot came back off the post.
Duffy then notched the sixth, skipping down the left flank and drilling home with aplomb. “There’s only one Michael Duffy,” said the excited Dundalk PA man, who also happens to be named Michael Duffy. Limerick weren’t in on the joke.
Kenny then sprung Nigerian-Italian Marco Tagbajumi for a first Oriel outing, a decision that did not please the hat-trick chasing Hoban. He was admonished by his manager for a petulant reaction, the only hint of discord in what was a routine exercise.
Other players needed a leg-up though and chaotic Limerick defending allowed Dylan Connolly in to add the seventh. Limerick’s fans kept on singing, to the point where they could be forgiven for losing count.
Duffy added the eighth at the death, but the locals will know a more exacting test is required to measure the true meaning.
Dundalk – Rogers, Gannon, Folan, Cleary, Massey; Shields (Chvedukas 60), Benson (Adorjan 75); Connolly, Murray, Duffy; Hoban (Tagbajumi 67)
Limerick – Clarke, Kelly, Cantwell, D Dennehy, Tracy; Duggan, Wearen (Whitehead 60); Fitzgerald, Walsh O’Loghlen, B Dennehy; Ellis (O’Sullivan 60)
REF – P Tuite (Dublin)