Shamrock Rovers moved back to the top of the Airtricity League Premier Division table with a convincing win over Dundalk, in front of a crowd of 3,309 at Tallaght Stadium.
A brace apiece from James Chambers and Gary Twigg ensured Rovers go into Thursday’s Europa League game against Bnei Yehuda on a high while Dundalk must regroup ahead of their long trip to take on Levski Sofia.
The damage could have been much more but for several excellent saves by Dundalk goalkeeper Matt Gregg.
Chasing their third win over Rovers in the league this season, Dundalk started well and Ross Gaynor struck a fierce free kick off the crossbar on six minutes but that was as good as it got for the Oriel Park side.
Gregg then made a series of excellent saves as Rovers began to stamp their authority on the game.
The first was a cracking dive and one-handed save on 11 minutes from Craig Sives before fine saves from Twigg shots on 13 and 17 minutes.
Dundalk’s Wayne Hatswell cleared the ball off the line on 23 minutes from Twigg who had raced onto Paddy Kavanagh’s through ball and rounded Gregg.
But Rovers soon took full control of the game with three goals in six minutes.
Chambers volleyed in a fantastic left-footed opener on 30 minutes after Hatswell knocked a Stephen Rice throw-in into his path.
The second goal arrived on 35 minutes when a Kavanagh corner wasn’t cleared properly by the Dundalk defence and Twigg bundled over the line.
With Dundalk still reeling from that sudden double setback, Twigg ended the game as a contest less than a minute later.
From the restart, Thomas Stewart caught Alan Cawley in possession and put Twigg through for a low finish past the shell-shocked Gregg.
The Dundalk net-minder was called into action again on 51 minutes when he dived low to save from a Kavanagh shot while he then saved a Stewart header on 53.
But his luck ran out on the hour mark when Chambers met Chris Turner’s ball deep on the right. Gregg touched the ball onto the bar but agonisingly saw it bounce over the line and into the net.
Stephen Maher should have scored a consolation for Dundalk on 85 minutes but blasted high over the bar from a good position.
Shamrock Rovers: Mannus, Stevens, Price, Murray, Sives, Kavanagh (O‘Connor 65), Chambers, Rice (Bayly 72), Turner, Twigg (Barrett 70), Stewart.
Dundalk: Gregg, Kelly, Hatswell, Miller, Maher, Cawley, Gaynor, Murphy (McGuigan 45), McDonnell, Mulvenna (McGowan 58), Fenn,
Referee: D McKeon.