TULLAMORE fell to their biggest defeat in recent seasons when they travelled to Maynooth last Friday to take on the league leaders.
In what was a one-sided encounter the home side's swift passing game left them chasing shadows for long periods as they struggled to contain the students' free-scoring strike force.
They gave early notice of their capabilities when Daragh Reynor flashed a free kick inches outside the right post and then Mark Corrigan was denied by a fine last ditch tackle from Brian Norris.
With 15 minutes gone they made the breakthrough when Cillian Duffy swept the ball out to Reynor on the left and Conor Foley was on hand to drive his low cross into the bottom right corner of the net.
Tullamore tried to hit back with Robbie Bracken playing a lovely ball through to Anto Kavanagh but he was crowded out and then Bracken got on the end of Enda Carroll’s pass but David Sterio in the home goal was equal to his effort.
With 20 minutes on the clock Maynooth increased their lead when Paddy Dunican did well to beat out Conor Foley’s shot but Colin McDermott pounced on the rebound to drive the ball into the back of the net.
Five minutes later they struck again when Daniel Blake broke free on the right and crossed low into the area for McDermott to fire home from close range.
Tullamore nearly got a goal back when Robbie Bracken’s fine run just failed to pick out John Drummond and then Drummond raced clear on the right but Mark Corrigan got across to tidy up. They went perilously close on 40 minutes when Anto Kavanagh played a great ball through to Shane Dowling but, with only the keeper to beat, he placed his shot inches outside the left post as the referee brought the first half to a conclusion with the home side three goals to the good.
Within a minute of the restart Maynooth had added to their advantage when Conor Foley picked out Daragh Reynor in the area and he clipped the ball past the advancing Paddy Dunican and into the net.
Tullamore nearly reduced the arrears when John Drummond picked out Robbie Bracken but David Sterio brilliantly turned his effort around the post. The home side hit back with Gary Daly and Conor Foley combining to create a chance for Daragh Reynor but he fired narrowly over and then Reynor picked out Foley but his effort flew narrowly wide.
With 57 minutes gone the students struck again when Colin McDermott played a lovely ball through to Conor Foley and he drilled it into the bottom right hand corner of the net.
With Mattie Hynes and Kevin Minnock coming on Tullamore steadied the ship and were unlucky not to get a goal back when, following a corner, Patrick Robilliard’s header was superbly tipped over by David Sterio in the home goal.
Robilliard again went close when he got on the end of Minnock’s through ball and fired past the right post and then Anto Kavanagh cut in from the left but his effort was too high. The latter stages of the game were played out in stalemate as both sides emptied their benches with the final whistle coming as a welcome relief to a beleaguered Tullamore.
This was sweet revenge for Maynooth who suffered the indignity of having five goals put past them in the corresponding fixture last season.
For Tullamore it was a serious wake-up call as their season threatens to be derailed by injuries and suspensions.
They have another difficult away fixture this Friday when they travel to Greystones in what is now a must win game if they are to remain in the promotion race.
Maynooth: David Sterio; Shane Harte, Gary Daly, Jake Corrigan, Daragh Gannon, Mark Corrigan, Daniel Blake, Daragh Reynor, Colin McDermott, Conor Foley, Cillian Duffy.
Subs: Gavin Kinsella, David Travers, Cian Byrne, Youseff Belhout, Conor Murphy, David McNamara.
Tullamore: Paddy Dunican; Shane O’Connell, Brian Francis, Brian Norris, Shane Martin, Patrick Robilliard, John Drummond, Enda Carroll, Anto Kavanagh, Robbie Bracken, Shane Dowling.
Subs: Mattie Hynes, Kevin Minnock, Jack Goodings, Glen McEvoy, David Maloney.