Cork City kept up the pressure on Dundalk at the top of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division with a convincing 4-1 win at Longford Town, narrowing the gap on the league leaders to six points.
The result sets up a fascinating clash between the top two at Oriel Park next weekend, in the aftermath of Dundalk's midweek Champions League encounter with BATE Borisov.
The Leesiders were never in trouble at the City Calling Stadium, once Steven Beattie’s strike and a Willie Tyrell own-goal gave them a two-goal advantage inside the opening 23 minutes.
New signing Beattie, recruited from Sligo Rovers a couple of weeks ago, opened the scoring in the 21st minute of his debut, heading home from a Kevin O’Connor corner and within two minutes another O’Connor corner led to City's second goal, as Karl Sheppard beat the keeper with help from a deflection off Tyrell.
Any hopes of a home revival were snuffed out with just over 20 minutes to go, when Mark O’Sullivan beat the offside trap and fired home a third goal, while Sheppard sealed the win with a fourth goal three minutes from time.
Dean Kelly gave the Longford supporters something to cheer in stoppage time, with a spectacular effort that provided a moment of consolation.
Elsewhere, St Patrick’s Athletic bounced back from their Europa League exit to record their fifth league win in a row with a 2-0 win at Drogheda United.
In a goalless first half, Killian Brennan missed a penalty for Saints, his effort saved by Drogheda goalkeeper Micheál Schlingermann after the referee ruled Brennan had been fouled just inside the area.
But Brennan atoned for his miss with 15 minutes remaining, when he opened the scoring with a header from Conan Byrne’s corner. Young striker Jamie McGrath ensured victory in stoppage-time with his first goal for Saints – a simple finish from a Morgan Langley cross.
Meanwhile, Sligo Rovers slipped into the relegation play-off position after losing 1-0 to Bohemians at Dalymount Park, a result that keeps Bohs in the hunt for a European place.
Ismahil Akinade was the Bohs match-winner with a fine goal on 34 minutes, rifling home from 12 yards after a near-post flick-on by Keith Buckley. The win means Keith Long’s side are in fifth place, just three points behind St Patrick's Athletic in third.
A goalless draw at the Brandywell between Derry City and Limerick was perhaps a rather predictable outcome of a clash between the bottom two clubs in the division.
The result means Derry have now gone 11 games without a win, increasing the pressure on manager Peter Hutton, who was left in no doubt about how the home fans felt at the final whistle.
However, the game could have been done and dusted for Derry by half time, as they spurned numerous chances, with striker Stephen Dooley in particular guilty of two glaring misses.
The result leaves Derry City level on points with Sligo Rovers, who occupy the relegation play -off place, while Limerick are ten points adrift at the foot of the table.
— Irish Post Sport (@IrishPostSport) July 20, 2015
Just two games took place in the First Division at the weekend, with Finn Harps moving back to the top of the table courtesy of a 2-0 home win over Cobh Ramblers. Packie Mailey gave Harps the lead on the half hour, and a second goal in stoppage time from substitute Wilfried Tagbo wrapped up the points.
At Tolka Park, Shelbourne kept up their recent good form with a 3-1 win over Athlone Town that moved them into third place ahead of UCD. Sean Heaney gave Shels a fourth-minute lead that they held until early in the second half, when Aidan Friel set up Jamie O’Donnell to fire home an equaliser for Athlone.
But veteran striker Philip Hughes soon restored the home side's lead, and they sealed the win in stoppage time with a spectacular third goal from Dylan McGlade.
Premier Division - Bohemians 1 Sligo Rovers 0, Derry City 0 Limerick 0, Drogheda United 0 St Patrick's Athletic 2, Longford Town 1 Cork City 4.
First Division - Finn Harps 2 Cobh Ramblers 0, Shelbourne 3 Athlone Town 1.