Dundalk 4 Limerick 0
Pat Hoban hit the second hat-trick of his career as Dundalk moved back to the top of the Premier Division table — for 24 hours at least — with victory over Limerick FC at Oriel Park last night.
The striker has been in scintillating form since his return to the League of Ireland and took his tally for the season to 18 with a superb treble. His only previous hat-trick came five years ago against Bohemians.
Tommy Barrett’s side arrived at Oriel Park with more than this game to worry about but gave a good account of themselves for long spells only to collapse after gifting Dundalk a second from the spot midway through the second half.
For Stephen Kenny’s side, it was a seventh league win-in-a-row. They have now scored 54 goals this season with 15 of those coming against the Munster men.
The Shannonsiders more than held their own in the early stages but early injuries to Conor Clifford and Barry Maguire were a blow.
After a slow start Dundalk began to click into gear with Michael Duffy missing a sitter on 26 minutes when a neat flick by Hoban played him in one-on-one but, with only Brendan Clarke to beat, he fired to the left and wide.
Duffy went even closer on 33 minutes. This time a Robbie Benson pass slipped him in on the left but his shot came back off the outside of the post.
Dundalk were beginning to move up the gears and Clarke was called into action to keep the scores level two minutes later when he got down well to his right to keep out Hoban’s volley from the edge of the area.
The visitors did almost take a shock lead on 40 minutes when Mark O’Sullivan got a header away from a corner but Benson was on hand to clear off the line. That proved a pivotal moment in the game as Dundalk broke upfield where Connolly won a corner. The resulting delivery then broke to Hoban at the edge of the box, who rifled past Clarke.
The visitors started the second half well with William Fitzgerald’s long throws creating plenty of headaches for the Louth men’s defence.
At 1-0 the Munster men were always in the game but they shot themselves in the foot on 66 minutes when some sloppy play at the back resulted in Shane Duggan hauling down Connolly. Up stepped Hoban to hammer home from the spot.
There was little the goalkeeper could do about Dundalk’s third 15 minutes from time. Duffy’s return ball in from a corner was stepped over by Benson with Adorjan on hand to rifle high to the top left hand corner.
Hoban then completed his hat-trick on 84 minutes when he got an outstretched leg on the end of Connolly’s cross to complete the win.
DUNDALK: Rogers; Hoare, Gartland, Cleary, Jarvis; Chvedukas (Gannon 52), Benson (Poynton 85); Connolly, Adorján, Duffy (Murray 76); Hoban.
LIMERICK: Clarke; Whitehead, Wearen, Brouder,Duggan; Cantwell, Clifford (Tracy 13); Coleman, Maguire (Kearns 28), Fitzgerald (McGowan 85); M O’Sullivan.
Referee: N Doyle (Dublin).
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