Bohemians sailed into the FAI Cup semi-finals after a dominant home win over non-league Maynooth University Town.
Goals from Keith Buckley, Conor Levingston, Keith Ward, and Rolan Idowu ensured Bohemians reached their third semi in four years and kept the hunt for silverware in 2021 very much alive.
The only non-League of Ireland side left in the competition, Maynooth provided the shock factor in the previous round when they secured a famous 3-2 victory over First Division Cobh Ramblers.
However, the dream came to an end at the quarter-final stage with Alex Kelly's first-half red card proving a turning point for the Kildare side, who defended admirably all night.
Despite being heavy favourites, Bohemians struggled to show their superior quality early on. Meanwhile, Maynooth didn't appear daunted by the big occasion or loud home support, taking their time on the ball and directing passes into the runs of striker Jack O’Connor.
The experienced Bohemians offside trap was working though, as O’Connor was twice caught offside in the opening moments.
For all of Maynooth’s early composure, the game’s first chance arrived from a self-inflicted mistake. The visitor's left-back Alex Fitzgibbon misfired his clearance in the box directly onto the foot of striker Aaron Doran. Much to the relief of Fitzgibbon though, the 18-year-old fluffed his shot at goal.
Despite the miss, the hosts were beginning to work their way into the game and on the 17th minute, they took the lead. Ward’s shot from the right set off a goalmouth scramble, with captain Buckley getting the final touch as the ball found its way into the Maynooth net.
Jamie Mullins nearly scored Bohemians second on the half-hour mark when he skilfully turned his marker on the six-yard box, but Maynooth goalkeeper David Sterio was quick to block the resulting shot.
While Maynooth hadn’t looked out of their depth up to this point, they were well and truly thrown in the deep end when former Bohemians man Kelly was given a straight red card for a lunge on Dawson Devoy in the 33rd minute.
Kelly’s night was over and, minutes later, Maynooth’s may as well have been too, as the Gypsies capitalised with two quick-fire goals.
The second came a minute after the red card when Tyreke Wilson charged to the end line and drilled in a low cross that Conor Levingston struck into the bottom-right corner. And, barely two minutes later, the third followed when Ward latched onto a brilliant ball from Ciaran Kelly, stroking the ball past Sterio.
Whatever Maynooth’s game plan was arriving at Dalymount Park, it was now about keeping the scoreline dignified in the second half.
Three goals to the good and with an eye on fixtures to come, Keith Long withdrew Andy Lyons, Dawson Devoy and Buckley during the break.
Many sides could have capitulated in their position but Maynooth, to their credit, again looked calm in the opening stages of the second half.
Substitute Sven Biansumba made ambitious runs and held up play for the visitors but Bohemians substitute Rolan Idowu wasn’t to be outshone on his debut as he made it four on the hour mark.
The 19-year-old, who has just returned to Ireland after spells at Southampton and Cardiff City, made an impressive run from midfield before firing a low strike into the corner from 25 yards.
The hosts kept the pressure on as the visitors began to sit deeper and deeper in their own half. But that defensive setup proved effective at halting the incessant waves of attack directed toward it.
Were it not for the defensive partnership of Conor Dunne and Jake Corrigan – who headed and hooked away shots and crosses all night – Maynooth would surely have left here with a much crueler scoreline.
Maynooth nearly had a goal of their own to celebrate with ten minutes to go, when Sean Traynor unleashed a rocket that looked destined for the top corner
James Talbot, however, stretched brilliantly to parry it wide and with that he ensured that Bohemians would arrive into the semi-finals off the back of a clean sheet and assured.
Bohemian: James Talbot; Andy Lyons (Robert Mahon, 46), Rory Feely, Ciaran Kelly, Tyreke Wilson; Keith Buckley (James Finnerty, 46), Keith Ward, Dawson Devoy (Roland Idowu, 46); Jamie Mullins, Aaron Doran (Cole Kiernan, 64).
Maynooth University Town: David Sterio; Darragh Gannon, JKake Corrigan, Conor Dunne, Alex Fitzgibbon; Alex Kelly, Jackson Ryan (Conor Delahunty, 60), Conor Foley; Patrick O’Sullivan (Janabi Amour, 76), Eoin O’Neill (Sean Traynor, 37); Jack O’Connor (Sven Biansumba, 60).
Referee: Adriano Reale