On Friday, Athlone Town teenager Paddy Martyn learned that he was in line to make his senior debut in a live televised FAI Cup semi final.
For the young Galwegian goalkeeper, it was a ticket to a character building experience.
It’s not his fault that Athlone were destroyed here. This is an important point that needs to be stressed.
Even if first choice netminder Aaron Myles hadn’t suffered an unfortunately timed eye infection, an amateur side that has been out of action for a month – and was only able to play two games with their own U-19 team as preparation – was always going to struggle against a fully professional team sharpened by European experience at the highest level.
It would have taken a shock of epic proportions for Dundalk to miss out on equalling Shamrock Rovers’ record of six successive cup final appearances. They will lock horns with the Hoops again at the Aviva next Sunday in an attempt to win the trophy back.
But this semi final will now linger in the history books for a variety of reasons. As the minutes ticked by, it became clear this was on course to become the biggest thrashing in the competition’s history.
When sub Jordan Flores curled in the tenth goal in the 73rd minute, Dundalk had equalled three previous ties (1932, 1972 and 2018) that had finished with that winning margin.
The semi final equivalent (a 8-2 victory for Rovers over St Pat’s in 1948) was already in the bag.
Sean Murray of Dundalk shoots to score his side's eleventh goal during the Extra.ie FAI Cup Semi-Final match against Athlone Town. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Ten minutes later, Sean Murray gave Martyn no chance with another strike from distance and the target was reached.
The fact that nine different Dundalk players scored also sent the stats heads trawling through the archives, with the conclusion reached that it matched a Liverpool world record from the 1974/1975 European Cup Winners Cup when they knocked eleven past Norway's Stromsgodset.
Filippo Giovagnoli’s side still didn’t escape the evening unscathed with Daniel Cleary forced off with an early shoulder injury, a concern ahead of a busy week with a European trip to face Molde on Thursday before the Rovers showdown.
Otherwise, this was a stroll and there's little to be gained from analysing the brutal mismatch.
Patrick McEleney was imperious in a first half, scoring himself after helping to create a Michael Duffy brace and goals for Andy Boyle and John Mountney. Dave McMillan got two, Nathan Oduwa scraped one home and Chris Shields registered the goal of the night before Flores and Murray secured the game’s legacy.
Athlone Town: Martyn, White (Nealon 33), Delaney, Grogan, Brookes; Kimozo (Duffy 45), Birrane; Lennon, Manning, Reynolds; George