Shamrock Rovers manager Pat Fenlon is refusing to rule out challenging Dundalk for the title after an impressive 3-0 win over Cork City on Monday night in Tallaght Stadium.

The Hoops were dominant against an out-of-sorts Cork side as Damien Duff made his debut in front of a delighted crowd in south Dublin.

Fenlon told RTÉ Sport after the game: “It’s a big three points for us. Losing to Pat’s a couple of weeks ago, we were disappointed. From start to finish tonight we were excellent. I thought we had a real good shape about us tonight.

“We passed the ball really well and defensively we were very solid. We limited Cork to one chance that we gave them from Gary’s square pass but all around the pitch I thought we were good.

“We have been on a good run. We have bounced back really well [from the defeat to Pat’s] because we had to go to Longford which is difficult after that and obviously Cork coming here which is a big game for us.

"We’re delighted with three points. We have to keep going now. We don’t play for a couple of weeks and then we have three in six or seven days.

“We still have to play Dundalk twice. They are a very good side and we have to make sure when we play them that we turn them over twice. That is a big ask because nobody has done it yet. But on a performance like tonight, we are capable of beating anybody.”

“I asked him that, I said when we are signing senior players we want them to be good professionals and he is one of the best” - Pat Fenlon

Damien Duff made his long-awaited debut for Rovers, playing the final few minutes, and being very vocal throughout the cameo.

Fenlon said it is something he expects of the former Republic of Ireland international.

“People think in general that he is a quiet guy, and he is, but when he gets on the training ground and around the dressing-room he's been very good for us. I asked him that, I said when we are signing senior players we want them to be good professionals and he is one of the best. It was good to get him on the pitch tonight.

“We didn’t plan to get him on unless we were struggling a little bit or comfortably ahead. When Brandon scored the third goal, it gave us a chance to get him on the pitch and I’m delighted for the supporters as well to be able to see tonight.”

Having already exited the FAI Cup, it means the Hoops have a long wait for a return to action away to Sligo Rovers on 29 August. However, Fenlon feels it could benefit his squad.

He concluded: “It will give us a chance [to get players back]. Hopefully Stephen McPhail will be fit by then, Damien will have more training sessions under his belt.

“We might get a couple of others back. Marty Waters has one more match to serve on his suspension. We’re happy enough. We have a bit of momentum now and we need to keep going.”