Dundalk 4-0 Rovers
Jamie McGrath helped himself to a hat-trick as Dundalk beat Sligo Rovers 4-0 at Oriel Park.
A forgettable first half ended scoreless but the champions overtook Rovers to net four.
McGrath broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute with a good finish and he doubled his tally 20 minutes later.
Niclas Vemmelund made it 3-0 before McGrath put an end to Dundalk’s run of two straight defeats with a stoppage time penalty.
Rovers named the same team that beat Limerick and drew with Derry.
Benson was frequently involved as Dundalk tried to start at a high tempo but it took 19 minutes for Micheál Schlingermann to make his first save, gathering easily from David McMillan after neat approach play involving Patrick McEleney.
Benson pulled an effort wide of the mark in the opening stages of the second half as Dundalk injected some urgency into their play and they almost pulled in front in the 50th minute when Shields’ cross fell kindly for McGrath but Kyle Callan McFadden was in the right place to block his effort.
Schlingermann got down well to gather a Shields curler shortly after but the goalkeeper was helpless to stop McGrath from shooting through his legs in the 53rd minute after the Meathman got the better of Tobi Adebayo Rowling on the edge of the penalty area.
The goal injected some much needed confidence into the champions and they looked a lot more creative going forward with Duffy hooking another good opportunity over the top.
The insurance goal arrived with 18 minutes to go. Duffy was the creator, turning on the accelerator to burst down the right before slowing up and picking out McGrath who rifled his effort under Schlingermann.
McEleney thought he had made it 3-0 when he lifted a Benson pass over the advancing goalkeeper four minutes later but Regan Donelan appeared to hack the ball away before it could cross the line.
Niclas Vemmelund did grab the third when he bundled the ball home late on and McGrath completed the scoring when he converted a penalty in stoppage time.
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Niclas Vemmelund, Sean Hoare, Paddy Barrett, Dane Massey; Chris Shields, Robbie Benson (Thomas Stewart 88); Michael Duffy, Patrick McEleney (Stephen O’Donnell 84), Jamie McGrath; David McMillan (Ciaran Kilduff 79).
Sligo Rovers: Michael Schlingermann; Tobi Adebayo Rowling, Michael Leahy, Kyle Callan McFadden, Regan Donelan; Kieran Sadlier, John Russell (Matthew Stevens 78), Gary Boylan, Liam Martin (Michael Place 85); Raffaele Cretaro, Jonah Ayunga (Craig Roddan 59).
Referee: Graham Kelly.