Derry City 0, Dundalk 4
DERRY CITY lost their grip on fourth spot heading into the midseason interval following another heavy defeat by a rampant Dundalk at Brandywell Stadium.
It was the Candystripes' seventh defeat in 10 league matches which ensured Shamrock Rovers leapfrogged them into fourth position in the SSE Airtricity Premier Division on goal difference.
Following a 2-2 draw at Oriel Park earlier in the season and a 4-1 drubbing to end Derry's unbeaten start at Brandywell this season, Dundalk have now netted 55 goals in 22 games against City under the watch of Stephen Kenny and this one was as dominant a win as the scoreline would suggest.
Robbie Benson broke the deadlock on 41 minutes when his shot beat Gerard Doherty at the near post just as Derry were getting to grips with the encounter.
And after the break the Lilywhites stepped it up with goals from Dylan Connolly, Pat Hoban and Michael Duffy to ensure a miserable night for the home support.
Derry had made one change from the team which won at Bohemians last week as they began life without the influential Ronan Curtis following his move to Portsmouth with Ben Doherty replacing him on the left wing.
Kenny Shiels claimed he was down to the bare bones for the visit of the in-form Lilywhites and named five of the club's U19 representatives on the bench.
The Candystripes were also without experienced midfielder, Nicky Low who sat out the game through suspension with Gavin Peers sidelined through injury.
Dundalk meanwhile were boasted by the return of Chris Shields, Dane Massey and Jamie McGrath to the starting XI.
It was one-way traffic from the first whistle with Dundalk dominating possession but it was Derry who had the best of the early chances.
Rory Patterson attempted an audacious lob from just inside the Dundalk half on three minutes with keeper, Gary Rogers off his line when the visitors' move broke down but his effort went wide.
Duffy then flashed curling right footed effort wide of the far post when the ball from to him just inside the Derry penalty area.
Dundalk had Derry penned into their own half for the opening 20 minutes but it was the home side who came closest to breaking the deadlock on 25 minutes.
Ben Doherty found Patterson on the edge of the box with his back to goal and the striker slipped the ball into the path of McEneff whose drilled effort from 25 yards had to be turned behind by Rogers at full stretch.
Duffy was played through on goal by Hoban on the hour mark and rounded the keeper but from a tight angle was forced to cross and the chance was lost.
The former Celtic man then returned the favour, playing Hoban into space just inside the Derry 18 yard box but the in-from striker scuffed his shot and Doherty made a routine save.
Dundalk hit the front on 41 minutes when Conor McDermott closed down Duffy's strike but when it fell to Benson his shot crept into the net at the near post. It was Benson's third goal against the Candystripes this season but Doherty will be disappointed to be beaten at his near post.
The Co. Louth men were churning through the gears at the start of the second half and deservedly doubled their lead on 62 minutes.
Duffy crossed from the left and Hoban rose highest but powered his head off the underside of the crossbar. Connolly reacted quickest and blasted into the net to silence the home support.
Former Candystripe, Duffy really should've added a third on 72 minutes when Massey found him with a lovely first time pass but he blasted over the bar from 10 yards.
Dundalk did add a third moments later when Jamie McGrath's deflected shot found Hoban in space inside the box and he coolly slotted into the net.
Duffy finally got on the scoresheet when substitute, Krisztian Adorjan dinked his pass towards the back post and the winger applied a superb finish with seven minutes remaining.
Shiels will welcome the short break in play as he looks to bolster his thread-bare squad to ensure they maintain their pursuit of European football next season.
Derry City: G. Doherty: J. McDonagh, E. Toal, C. McDermott, J. Doyle; Ronan Hale, R. Hale, D. Cole, B. Doherty; A. McEneff; R. Patterson (C. Farren 69); Subs Not Used - E. Grimes, E. Tweed, A. Delap, N. Logue, S. McBride, S. McNamee.
Dundalk: G. Rogers; S. Hoare, B. Gartland, D. Cleary, D. Massey; D. Connolly, (K. Adorjan 80), C. Shields (S. Gannon 74), R. Benson, M. Duffy; J. McGrath; P. Hoban; Subs Not Used - G. Sava, S. Folan, R. Murray, M. Tagajumi, D. Jarvis.
Referee - Paul McLaughlin (Monaghan).