Not for the first time in his career, Chris Forrester stole the show, capping it with a brace of delightful goals, as league leaders St Patrick's Athletic maintained their unbeaten start to the season.
After a lacklustre opening 45 minutes at Richmond Park, Saints came alive after the interval to all but seal their sixth win of the campaign with two goals inside seven minutes of the restart.
A fifth defeat in six games, and without a goal from play during that run, leaves bottom side Longford facing a long season ahead.
With Monday away to Sligo Rovers in mind, St Pat's coach O’Donnell rotated his squad, dropping regulars John Mountney and Ronan Coughlan to the bench while Robbie Benson remained out injured.
Longford manager Daire Doyle also made changes from their defeat at Waterford last time out with defender Joe Manley and striker Aaron Dobbs coming back in from the start.
And it was the visitors who edged the early possession in Inchicore’s bright sunshine.
St Pat’s slowly got their passing game in tune, though, with teenager Darragh Burns curling a left foot effort off target after a promising, surging break by Alfie Lewis from deep.
Hardworking Longford responded immediately with Dobbs working Vitezlav Jaros from a 12th minute shot from the edge of the area after Karl Chambers set him up.
And their pressing game brought Longford another opening just past the half hour.
The usually diligent Lee Desmond was caught in possession by Dobbs who blew the opportunity, undoing his good work by running on to shoot tamely wide with options around him.
As half-time approached, an incisive passing move involving Burns, Shane Griffin and Billy King presented Saints’ Forrester with a shooting chance. There was precious little venom in the drive to trouble Michael Kelly between the Longford posts, as if to sum up a pretty uninspiring first half.
Clearly unhappy, O’Donnell introduced both Mountney and Coughlan for the restart and it brought an immediate reaction as St Pat’s were ahead inside two minutes.
Just Chris Forrester doing Chris Forrester things. The Saints man score a brace of goals and really turned on the style as his side eased to a 3-0 victory over Longford. #rtesoccer pic.twitter.com/0qjVyuQyH5— Soccer Republic (@SoccRepublic) April 30, 2021
Town defender Joe Gorman completely missed Burns’ arcing delivery from the left, leaving Coughlan with a simple toe poke to the net at the back post.
Karl Chambers headed over from an Aaron Bolger cross a minute or so later as Longford looked for a sharp response.
Instead, cue the genius of Forrester on 52 minutes to double St Pat’s lead.
Longford completely stood off the Saints’ skipper as he collected Coughlan’s ball in from the left.
And Forrester didn’t need a second invitation with the time and space afforded him to look up, get the ball onto his right foot and curl it to the top corner from over 20 yards.
Further sloppiness at the back from Longford two minutes into added time was clinically punished by Forrester who won the ball to dribble past two defenders to finish from close range off his left foot.
St Patrick’s Athletic: Vitezslav Jaros; Same Bone, Paddy Barrett, Lee Desmond; Jamie Lennon (John Mountney h-t), Chris Forrester; Darragh Burns (Ian Bermingham 57), Alfie Lewis, Billy King (Ben McCormack 85), Shane Griffin (Ronan Coughlan h-t); Mattie Smith.
Longford Town: Michael Kelly; Joe Manley, Aaron O’Driscoll, Joe Gorman, Paddy Kirk (Sam Verdon 56); Aodh Dervin, Aaron Robinson; Dylan Grimes (Dean Byrne 77), Aaron Bolger (Callum Thompson 77), Karl Chambers; Aaron Dobbs (Rob Manley 70).
Referee: Ray Matthews (Longford).