Patrick Hoban bagged a first-half brace in the snow as Dundalk romped to their first league win of the 2018 SSE Airtricity League season against Limerick at Oriel Park.

'The Hobanator' left Dundalk as a league winner in 2014 and after returning to the club following a disappointing spell in the UK, he announced his second coming with a brace that propelled Dundalk to a hugely impressive win.

The snow that fell before kick-off meant that referee Paul Tuite opted to play with an orange ball, something of a rarity since the introduction of 'summer football' in this country.

After firing blanks in their opening two matches, Stephen Kenny's side went into the game looking for three points that would keep them in touch with early pacesetters Cork City and they had the victory all but wrapped up after just 10 minutes.

Winger Michael Duffy set the tone for what was to come, leaving Shaun Kelly and William Fitzgerald in his wake less than two minutes in but Ronan Murray could only divert his low cross off target.

Murray did better five minutes later. After being picked out by Robbie Benson on the left, he fired the ball across the face of goal for the incoming Hoban to open Dundalk's account for the season.

The early blizzard of goals continued with Robbie Benson curling home number two in the 10th minute, a cracker from the 18-yard line that curled inside Brendan Clarke's right-hand post after neat set-up play by Michael Duffy. 

With Daniel Kearns, Cian Coleman and Danny Morrissey all missing, Limerick looked a pale imitation of the side that picked up four points from their opening two games and Gary Rogers' biggest concern in the first-half was trying to stay warm with so little to do.

Dundalk's Pat Hoban grabbed a brace.

It was one-way traffic for large spells and Hoban's second in the 25th minute certainly warmed the home support.

It looked like the chance had gone when he picked the ball up wide right but the former Mervue United man cut inside, left Shane Tracy in a daze, and dispatched brilliantly into the bottom corner.

Limerick had a penalty appeal waved away by Tuite in the 41st minute when William Fitzgerald went down under pressure from ex-Blues centre-back Stephen Folan.

And a miserable, miserable opening 45 minutes for Tommy Barrett's side was compounded when Folan popped up at the other end to glance home a Duffy corner and claim his first competitive goal for the Lilywhites.

Murray was denied a fifth early in the second-half by a brilliant Clarke stop and the woodwork stopped Hoban from claiming a 52nd minute hat-trick with Clarke beaten. 

Kenny introduced Lithuanian midfielder Karolis Chvedukas on the hour mark and he got in on the act with a cool finish from the age of the penalty area four minutes later after Murray saw an effort come back off the post.

The visitors were reeling badly at this stage and Michael Duffy slotted home number six shortly after, breaking yet again on the left before placing the ball across the hapless Clarke.

Hoban departed to a standing ovation in the 68th minute but the striker looked unhappy not to get the opportunity to claim the match ball.

His replacement, Marco Tagbajumi, fizzed an effort at Clarke before Dylan Connolly hit the magnificent seventh with 11 minutes remaining when he pounced on a heavy touch by Tony Whitehead to outstrip the Limerick back four and fire home.

There was still time for Kenny's side to grab number eight, Duffy tapping home in stoppage time to condemn the Shannonsiders to a record equalling heaviest club defeat.

Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Dan Cleary, Stephen Folan, Dane Massey; Chris Shields (Karolis Chvedukas 60), Robbie Benson (Krisztian Adorjan 75); Dylan Connolly, Ronan Murray, Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban (Marco Tagbajumi 67).

Limerick: Brendan Clarke; Shaun Kelly, Darren Dennehy, Killian Cantwell, Shane Tracy;  William Fitzgerald, Shane Duggan, Eoin Wearen (Tony Whitehead 61), Colm Walsh-O’Loghlen, Billy Dennehy; Connor Ellis (Mark O'Sullivan 61).

Referee: Paul Tuite.