Bohemians put five past a poor Dundalk side who finished with nine men after Harpal Singh was red carded and Michael Daly went off injured with all three subs used, writes Mark Cummins.
Jason Byrne netted four and Glen Crowe the other on a fantastic night for Bohs. Regardless of the numerical advantage it was still an entertaining exhibition of football from the champions.
Bohemians had the better start of the two sides and had several early chances. Ken Oman turned and shot on 10 minutes but his ball went over the bar, while Dundalk ‘keeper Chris Bennion made a great save from Gary Deegan on 18 minutes after the midfielder had been put through by Crowe.
It was a mostly defensive game for Dundalk during this period but they were dealt a blow on 20 minutes when Dave Rogers was forced off with a hamstring injury. He was replaced by former Bohs favourite Thomas Heary.
Byrne nearly put Bohs ahead on 27 minutes but his shot went left and wide. However, the Bohs hitman was involved when that opener came three minutes later. Byrne acted on a poor Michael Coburn back pass and crossed to Crowe who shot past Bennion inside the area on the left.
Oman was in again and nearly doubled the lead on 35 minutes when he got his head to a corner but headed over with several Dundalk bodies advancing.
Dundalk started the second half in excellent form but they were reduced to ten men on 53 minutes when Singh was red-carded after a second bookable offence, with the two cards coming in the space of two minutes.
Dundalk fell away after that and Byrne scored number two for Bohs on 73 minutes when he slotted home a penalty past Bennion after Graham Carey had been taken down in the box.
It went from bad to worse for Dundalk when they lost Daly to injury on 81 minutes and, having used up their three substitutes, the Lilywhites were forced to play the rest of the game with nine men.
With the added numerical advantage Bohs looked likely to score again and another three goals came courtesy of Byrne. Firstly, he raced through to meet Anto Murphy’s throw-in on 83 and easily slotted past Bennion.
He netted his third of the night on 90 minutes when he rounded Bennion at the left post and slotted into the back of the net before scoring his fourth and Bohs’ fifth in the fifth minute of added time, again at the left post from a Neale Fenn ball.
Bohemians: Murphy; O Heary, Oman, Powell, Shelley; Brennan, Carey (Murphy 76), Deegan (McGuinness 89), Keegan; Byrne, Crowe (Fenn 85).
Dundalk: Bennion; Kelly, Rogers (T Heary 20), Synott, Coburn; O’Callaghan, Singh, Turner, Rowe (O’Brien 55); Mansaram, Mulvenna (Daly h/t).
Referee: A Buttimer (Dublin).