Dundalk returned to winning ways in some style at Oriel Park on Monday night, recording their biggest-ever victory over Cork City.
Stephen O’Donnell’s side went into the game on the back of four consecutive defeats but they ended the night by making up ground on three of the teams above them to keep their hopes of European qualification alive with five games to play.
Not for the first time, Daryl Horgan, who scored the final goal of his first spell with Dundalk against the Leesiders in 2016, proved to be a thorn in the side of his old club.
The 31-year-old provided the assist for the opening goal when his curling free-kick was headed home by Hayden Muller in the 18th minute and he scored the second with a thumping drive after a mistake by Conor Drinan nine minutes later.
The Republic of Ireland international also had a major hand in Dundalk’s third before the break when his header was deflected past the helpless Ollie Byrne by Cian Coleman.
Sam Durrant’s weaving run and classy finish saw him claim his first senior goal in the 54th and John Martin made it 5-0 in the dying stages with a fine header from Archie Davies’s delivery.
Nathan Shepperd made a couple of brilliant saves to deny Ruairi Keating and Joe O’Brien Whitmarsh as Dundalk capped a good night off with a welcome clean sheet.
The result moves the Lilywhites three points behind fifth-placed Bohemians and a further one behind Shelbourne in fourth. Dundalk still have to play both before the season comes to an end in November.
DUNDALK FC: Nathan Shepperd; Archie Davies, Greg Sloggett, Darren Brownlie (Darragh Leahy 77), Hayden Muller; Johannes Yli-Kokko (Senan Mullen 77), Paul Doyle (Alfie Lewis 45), Daryl Horgan (Ryan O’Kane 62); John Martin, Patrick Hoban (Cameron Elliott 62), Sam Durrant. Subs not used: Peter Cherrie (GK), Daniel Kelly, Robbie McCourt, Anto Moyo, Senan Mullen.
CORK CITY: Ollie Byrne; Aaron Bolger, Cian Coleman, Ally Gilchrist, Conor Drinan (Josh Honohan 56); Andrii Kravchuk (Oran Crowe 81), Ben Worman (Gordon Walker HT); Cian Bargary, Joe O’Brien Whitmarsh (Cian Murphy HT), Malik Dijksteel (Jaze Kabia 56); Ruairi Keating. Subs not used: Jimmy Corcoran (GK), John O’Donovan, Jonas Hakkinen, Josh Fitzpatrick.
REFEREE: Paul McLaughlin.