Dundalk made it four wins from four in the First Division with a thumping win over Athlone Town in Oriel Park.

John Gill’s side had to come from behind to claim the win, however, but after finding top gear there was never any question about the destination of the three points.

The visitors got off to a dream start when captain Ian Rossiter gave them the lead from the penalty spot on 11 minutes after John Flanagan was adjudged to have fouled Paul McTiernan in the area.

It took Dundalk less than five minutes to restore parity, however, with Shaun Williams firing home his fourth goal in as many games. The contribution came with the aid of a slight deflection off Michael Harty after Cathal O’Connor’s initial effort had been charged down by the Athlone defence.

Michael O’Connor’s side had their best opportunity to retake the lead after 22 minutes when Colm Heffernan beat goalkeeper Chris Bennion to a long ball over the top, but the winger failed to get enough power on his shot to prevent Keith Dunne from getting back and clearing off the line.

Dundalk went close themselves on 35 minutes when a great ball over the top from Flanagan saw Philip Hughes race in behind the Athlone defence, but somehow goalkeeper Danny O’Leary managed to keep the shot out with a fine one-handed save.

The home side didn’t have to wait long for their second goal, however, as Flanagan pounced from a corner by David Crawley to fire his side in front.

Dundalk then added to their advantage in first half stoppage-time when Anto Flood lobbed O’Leary from 35 yards after centre-half Ronan Frawley made a mess of trying to head clear a long ball.

The game was then effectively ended within 45 seconds of the restart when Robbie Dunne headed home a fourth for his side from a Crawley corner to end any hopes of an Athlone revival.

Hughes then added salt to the visitor’s wounds when he flicked home a fifth with a near-post header in the 74th minute from another Crawley corner.

Crawley’s evening ended on a sour note, however, when he joined Rossiter for an early bath two minutes later after both sides were reduced to ten men following straight red cards.

There was some consolation for the visitors when Steve Gavin pulled a goal back with four minutes remaining, but then deep in stoppage time Cathal O’Connor made it six for Dundalk with a sublime chip.

Dundalk: Bennion; Flanagan, R Dunne, Lynch, Crawley; K Dunne (Grimes, 79 mins), O’Connor, Williams, Doran (Smyth, 75 mins); Flood (Vaughan, 66 mins), Hughes.

Athlone Town: O’Leary; Rossiter, Frawley, Sheridan (Des Hope, 50 mins), Young (Casey, 70 mins); Gavin, Harty, Byrne, Heffernan; McGee, McTiernan (Lavine, 27 mins).

Referee: Tommy Connolly (Dublin).