First club goals for on-loan central defender Michael Hector on his tenth appearance saw Dundalk comfortably brush aside the challenge of Galway United as they defeated their Western opponents on a 3-0 scoreline for the third season running at Terryland Park on Friday night. The Lilywhites hit the front in the 33rd minute when Hector rose to meet a Daniel Kearns’ free-kick, the ball just going over the line, and the lead was extended before the break when Mark Quigley fired in from 20-yards with another classy finish. Hector got his second 18 minutes from time when he tapped in after Greg Fleming had somehow denied Jason Byrne, and he was cruelly denied a hat-trick seconds later as he hit the inside of the post.
Hector gave his reaction to the game afterwards. Listen below.
Assistant manager Darius Kierans also spoke to dundalkfc.com shortly after full-time. Listen below.
Dundalk manager Ian Foster made one change to the side that drew with Shamrock Rovers on Monday afternoon as Shane Guthrie returned from injury having missed the last six games, with Colin Hawkins, who had recently been suffering with a hamstring injury, taking his place on the bench. On five minutes, Kearns got past at least four Galway defenders but, under pressure, the ball eventually ran through to home No1 Fleming. On 11 minutes, Stephen McDonnell was booked for going through Shane Keogh midway inside the Dundalk half, which resulted in a yellow card that now leaves him due to serve a suspension. On 20 minutes, after Kearns’ low cross was blocked away, the visitors kept on the attack and Keith Ward had a pop from close to 35-yards, his attempted lob going over the crossbar.
Shortly after, Alan Murphy’s clever flick from the right found Keogh in space inside the box but the covering McDonnell cleared behind. Quigley then had a run into the box halted by the experienced Shaun Maher, a one-time target of Foster’s in pre-season. On 32 minutes, Simon Madden made a superb overlapping run down the right and he was about to latch onto Kearns’ through-ball only to be fouled by Karl Moore. Seán Kelly and Hector were both given a talking to before Kearns curled in a delivery which the on-loan Reading defender met at the back post, his downward header adjudged to have crossed the line by the assistant referee. Galway tried to respond and Murphy saw a free-kick deflected over Peter Cherrie’s crossbar. Dundalk made it 2-0 three minutes before the break when Quigley found space outside the box and took a touch before planting a sweet, low right-footed drive in Fleming’s bottom left-hand corner.
Dundalk almost made it 3-0 in the opening moments of the second half but Fleming’s palm from a Kearns cross rebounded off Byrne and went behind. Shortly after, Gaynor’s free-kick was deflected over, before the resulting corner went just wide off a Galway head. Before the hour mark, Galway should have been back in it when Gary Kelly headed back across goal for Murphy but from 15-yards he drilled a first-time effort narrowly over. Dundalk, however, continued to press and Byrne connected with a Gaynor corner but it looped over, and they had chances from numerous corners and free-kicks. That pressure paid off as they grabbed a deserved third on 72 minutes. Byrne’s header was magnificently pushed away by Fleming but Hector tapped in the rebound from close range. Byrne then drove wide before Hector was cruelly denied a hat-trick when his header came back off the inside of the post. Murphy could have grabbed a late consolation but he hit the crossbar from a free-kick.
GALWAY UNITED FC: Greg Fleming, Paul Sinnott ©, Shaun Maher, Eduardo Dusi, Stephen Walsh, Seán Kelly, Shane Keogh (Mikey Gilmore 61), Karl Moore, Gary Kelly (Enda Curran 66), Alan Murphy, Steve Feeney.
Booked: M Gilmore (81).
Unused Subs: Conor Winn (GK), Paul Smith, Darragh Duggan, Rory Gartland.
DUNDALK FC: Peter Cherrie, Simon Madden ©, Michael Hector, Shane Guthrie, Nathan Murphy, Stephen McDonnell (Colin Hawkins 90+1), Keith Ward, Daniel Kearns, Mark Quigley (Johnny Breen 64), Ross Gaynor, Jason Byrne (Mark Griffin 74).
Goals: M Hector (33, 72), M Quigley (42).
Booked: S McDonnell (11), M Hector (39), D Kearns (90).
Unused Subs: Paul Murphy (GK), Philip Duffy.
Referee: Padraig Sutton (Clare).