Steven Bradley was once again the star of the show as the Stephen O'Donnell era at Dundalk got up and running with his first victory.

Ollie Horgan’s Finn Harps dominated the first-half exchanges but the on-loan Hibernian winger turned the game on its head with a superb goal a minute before the break before teeing up Sam Bone for a second within a minute of the restart.

The 19-year-old then made it four goals in three outings to add to his earlier strikes this season against Derry City and Bohemians with another cracking effort on 67 minutes to ensure O’Donnell his first win in the Oriel Park hot seat.

The result was harsh on a Harps side who had drawn their league opener away to UCD 72 hours earlier but they had no answer to the brilliance of Bradley and the experience the home side were able to spring from the bench at half-time to help turn the tide in the game.

The Ballybofey men had the better first-half chances and looked like they would take the lead on 13 minutes when Ethan Boyle capitalised on some loose passing in the home defence to set Filip Mihlajevic clear.

The Croat then rounded goalkeeper Nathan Shepperd but was denied his first goal in Irish football by a stunning sliding clearance off the line by Lewis Macari.

Mihlajevic then turned provider five minutes later when he was released on the right by Ryan Connolly but his cross was headed tamely wide by the inrushing Barry McNamee.

Connolly then went close to scoring himself twice in quick succession - firstly having a snap shot from the edge of the box pushed away by Shepperd before forcing the Welsh U21 international to claw the ball away from under his crossbar from an inswinging corner that looked destined for the net.

Mihaljevic then went close again on 31 minutes when he seized on a loose pass by Robbie Benson to get a shot away that beat Shepperd but spun up and over off the crossbar.

It summed up how poor Dundalk were that their first attempt of any nature didn't arrive until the 42nd minute when Paul Doyle was lined up for a volley from outside the box from Joe Adams’ corner that was closer to the corner flag than Mark McGinley’s goal.

Bradley then delivered a real sucker punch a minute before the break. Despite briefly losing possession from Shepperd’s pass, he nicked it back off Mark Timlin before cutting in from the right and drilling left footed to the left corner of the net for his third goal in as many matches.

Dundalk then doubled their advantage within 44 seconds of the restart with Bradley turning provider on this occasion as he picked out Bone, who squeezed a left-footed shot past McGinley at his near post.

Patrick Hoban and Bradley then forced further saves from the Harps keeper before Bradley added a third on 67 minutes with a left foot shot high to the net from the edge of the area that gave McGinley no chance after Hoban’s cross had broke to him off José Carrillo.

Bradley almost completed his hat-trick 10 minutes later in his last act before leaving to a standing ovation but his header from Daniel Kelly’s cross flashed just wide.

Dundalk: Nathan Shepperd; Sam Bone, Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle, Lewis Macari (Daniel Kelly 25); Dan Williams, Robbie Benson, Paul Doyle (Greg Sloggett HT); Joe Adams (Keith Ward 62), David McMillan (Patrick Hoban HT), Steven Bradley (John Martin 78).

Subs not used: Peter Cherrie, Mark Connolly, Mark Hanratty, Ryan O’Kane.

Finn Harps: Mark McGinley; Conor Tourish, David Webster, José Carrillo; Ethan Boyle, Ryan Connolly (Bastien Hery 71), Élie N’Zeyi, Mark Timlin (Jesse Devers 60); Ryan Rainey (Luke Rudden 84), Barry McNamee (Eric McWoods 60); Filip Mihaljevic (Yoyo Mahdy 60).

Subs not used: Gavin Mulreaney, Nathan Logue, Stephen Black, Damien Duffy.

Referee: John McLoughlin (Roscommon)