A devastating Dundalk performance blitzed Shelbourne at Tolka Park on Friday night as they breezed into the semi-finals of the FAI Cup.
Richie Towell scored twice and Pat Hoban, Andy Boyle also struck as well as a simply sublime strike from Kurtis Byrne wrapped up what was an all too easy victory for the double chasers.
Dundalk were looking to reach their second successive FAI Cup semi-final and continue their bid for a 10th title and their first in 11 years and are one step closer to achieving just that.
Brian Gartland returned to the Lilywhites side following illness last week and Johns Sullivan as well as Byrne following suspension and Dillon took their place as Dane Massey, Stephen O’Donnell, John Mountney and Tiarnan Mulvenna all made way from the team which was victorious against Drogheda United.
A miscued effort from Towell after five minutes was the best either side could muster in a scrappy opening to the contest before he then went much closer when latching on to a Pat Hoban flick and scoop a lob just over the top but when Dundalk hit their rhythm there was no halting them.
After 13 minutes it was that man Towell involved again and this time he got the end product desired when he exchanged passes with Dillon inside the area and collected the return before curling into the far corner past a despairing Niall Burdon who got a hand on the ball but could not keep it out.
Burdon then did brilliantly to tip over a vicious Darren Meenan strike from 25 yards after he was allowed to advance unchallenged into Shelbourne territory but was beaten again on 19 minutes with a goal very similar to one the Lilywhites had scored on their last visit to Tolka Park this year on league duty.
Meenan swung in a corner from the right and it was met by an emphatic header from Boyle as he came back to haunt his side for the second time this season, skimming in off the underside of the crossbar.
However, the home side did have their chances after going behind in the immediate aftermath of Boyle’s goal as Dean Kelly did well to rise between the central defenders to power a header at goal which Peter Cherrie saved.
He then missed a golden chance as Lee Murtagh fed him the ball inside the box and, with the Dundalk defence slow to react to the space Kelly found himself in, he somehow scuffed his effort high over the top with the goal gaping.
Hoban then blasted over at the other end after being afforded too much time on the edge of the box before Chris Shields did likewise with an ambitious volley from a Mark Rossiter throw as Dundalk continued to look the more likely to increase their lead than Shels did to reduce it.
Sure enough, after the half hour mark they did just that when Towell tore down the centre of the park through the middle of the hosts’ defence and when Burdon came to meet him, he laid off cutely into the path of Hoban who tapped home for an all too easy finish.
Burdon was then called into action again shortly afterwards to deny another scorching Meenan strike from outside the area as the Lilywhites refused to ease up at all in their continued search for goals.
They would keep on coming before the half time whistle was blown with a fourth being added through Byrne with an exceptional strike and a potential winner of the goal of the season award as he collected just inside the Shels half and looked up before flighting a glorious strike over the head of a despairing Burdon.
A minute before the whistle was blown, another was put on the scoreboard when Sullivan got forward on the right and put a superb cross into the box that was begging to be headed and it duly was thanks to Towell who diverted it into the corner of the net.
Hoban fired in the first effort of the second half with a bicycle kick attempt from outside the box as the Lilywhites looked to perhaps outdo the fantastic goal from Byrne in the opening 45.
Shelbourne did manage to pull one back when Murtagh then found space behind their defence although he did appear to be offside and kept a cool head to fire past Cherrie.
After that goal, the game hit something of a lull for the first time as Dundalk comfortably sat on the lead that they had worked so hard to build in the first half.
Shields had to be perfectly positioned to deny Sean Brennan with a goalline clearance before Cherrie rose to tip over a dipping Darren Tinnelly effort.
Vinny Faherty then flashed a header wide of the target at the other end as the Lilywhites saw the game out easily as attentions begin to turn to their massive top of the table league clash with St Patrick’s Athletic in Inchicore on Friday.
Shelbourne: Niall Burdon; Brian Gannon, Ian Ryan, Graham Gartland, Pat Flynn; Adam Hanlon, Glenn Cronin, Robert Bayly (Stephen Sheerin 70), Sean Brennan; Lee Murtagh (Carl Walshe 87), Dean Kelly (Darren Tinnelly 70).
Subs not used: Charlie Tracey, Stephen Hurley, Adam O’Connor, Paul Andrews.
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; John Sullivan, Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle, Mark Rossiter; Darren Meenan, Chris Shields, Richie Towell (John Mountney HT), John Dillon; Kurtis Byrne (Jordan Keegan 81), Pat Hoban (Vinny Faherty 70).
Subs not used: Aaron Shanahan, Simon Kelly, Nathan Murphy, Tiarnan Mulvenna.
Referee: Padraigh Sutton
Goalscorers: Towell 13 and 44, Boyle 19, Hoban 32, Byrne 41 (Dundalk). Murtagh 50 (Shelbourne).
Booked: Bayly 22, Kelly 35 (Shelbourne). Mountney 55 (Dundalk).
Shots: Dundalk – 17, Shelbourne – 12
Fouls conceded: Dundalk – 12, Shelbourne – 11
Corners: Dundalk – 4, Shelbourne – 2
Offsides: Dundalk – 0, Shelbourne – 2