Sligo Rovers 1
A pre-match challenge to his players by Dundalk's interim manager Jim Magilton to rescue their season by embarking on a 10-game winning run has already fallen flat, as the FAI Cup holders slumped to their fourth defeat in 10.
And while the hiring of a permanent manager, and a badly-needed clear-out of a pallid squad, may assist in the months ahead, right now the priority is just finding a way out of the mire and, whisper it, away from the relegation zone.
Sligo Rovers were worthy winners at Oriel Park, the points secured by Jordan Gibson's first-half goal, his third of the season, as Sligo were comfortably able to come to Dundalk and go home with a win, even with the handicap of being a man down for 37 minutes, after Garry Buckley's second bookable offence.
And despite spending the last half hour practically camped in the Sligo half, Dundalk didn't have the guile needed to get something, as they looked every inch a side lacking confidence.
Sligo demonstrated their intent as early as the 11th minute when Walter Figuera struck the crossbar with a powerful effort from distance, after Dundalk had given away possession too cheaply. Dundalk's attacks lacked confidence, as a poor free kick from Michael Duffy on 31 minutes contributed to Sligo winning possession, via slack play from Dundalk defender Val Adedokun, and they needed a save from Peter Cherrie to deny teenager Johnny Kenny.
And six minutes from the break Sligo were in front, with the kind of well-worked team goal which Dundalk in their prime would score: a patient ball out of defence from Robbie McCourt, a flick from Romeo Parkes to Gibson and with his turn Gibson, one of the most in-form midfielders in the league, left Andy Boyle in his wake and fired home, beating Cherrie with too much ease.
Dundalk had something fall their way early in the second half when Sligo centre half Buckley was dismissed for a second yellow card, and Magilton hoped his bench and the one-man advantage could spark something. But chances, like a 61st minute shot from sub Dan Kelly and a header soon after from Duffy, were not even on target.
DUNDALK – Cherrie; Jurkovskis, Cleary, Boyle, Adedokun; Zahibo, Shields (McEleney 65), Murray; Han (Kelly 55), Duffy; Junior (Midtskogen 80).
SLIGO – McGinty; Banks, Buckley, Mahon, McCourt; Bolger, Morohan; Kenny (Horgan 75), Gibson, Figuera; Parkes (Blaney 54).
REF – Robert Hennessy.