Bob McKenna’s 92nd-minute strike rescued a point for Dundalk as they were forced to settle for a share of the spoils in a 1-1 draw against Monaghan United at Oriel Park on Saturday afternoon, in the FAI National U19 League Northern Division. The goal cancelled out Lindo Majola’s early opener, and kept their slim title hopes alive.
The strike also brought McKenna’s tally to 40 goals in 23 games for the Lilywhites, between U19, Youth and Reserve level, and it could yet prove a vital point in their quest for league glory.
Dundalk started the game slowly. From the outset, Monaghan set out their stall out by playing 4-5-1 as they looked to frustrate the home side. Their cause was helped when Majola found the net on seven minutes, as the winger ran across the box unchallenged before firing to the top corner.
The young Lilywhites looked tired, with attacking duo McKenna and Chris Reilly having played the final half-hour for the first-team the previous night. Mark Leavy was also not his livewire self, after playing two games for his college Colaiste Ide during the week.
Dundalk were living off scraps and it was not until late in the game, with the introduction of Garreth Brady, that opportunities presented themselves, McKenna and Reilly both going close.
Their efforts were finally rewarded deep in injury-time, when Cian Byrne headed down to Brady who played in McKenna, with the 17-year-old Skerries native hammering to the net.
Dundalk are now two points behind leaders Finn Harps, who have a game in hand. Third-placed Derry City were held at lowly Longford Town on Sunday. And with Harps having to face Dundalk and Derry in their final four outings, the destination of the title is still far from decided.
DUNDALK FC: Craig Hanlon, Glen Trainor, Cian Byrne, Ben McLaughlin, Karl Martin, Darragh Keena (Kurt Murphy 80), Peter Thomas, Mark Leavy (Garreth Brady 65), Kevin Loughran (Michael Osobe 55), Bob McKenna, Chris Reilly.
Goal: B McKenna (90+2).