Jack Clancy’s 63rd-minute strike fired Dundalk into the Leinster Youth Cup semi-finals as they defeated Arklow Town 2-1 at Oriel Park on Sunday afternoon, in the process extending their unbeaten run to 12 games. After Kurt Murphy hit the crossbar, Daniel Hand scored for the third game running before the break, only to see Arklow level on the hour mark following a goalkeeping error. However, Clancy restored the lead shortly after, and the young Lilywhites went on to comfortably secure their second semi-final spot of the season.
Alan Browne’s side went into the game having drawn their last two outings in the league, and they faced into the unknown against the County Wicklow club. However, they showed well in the early stages and went within inches of opening the scoring on 25 minutes. After being awarded a free-kick wide on the left, Michael Gray stood up and delivered a fine cross onto the head of Murphy who saw his powerful effort come back off the crossbar.
But, ten minutes before half-time, Dundalk did find the breakthrough, after Hand latched onto the ball in the box and slotted to the bottom corner. Shortly after, Gray tried his luck from range but the visiting No1 saved, as the Lilywhites took the narrowest of advantages into the interval. That lead, though, disappeared on 60 minutes when a long ball over the Dundalk back four took a high bounce, with Johnny Connolly attempting to control it on his chest only for it to spin off him and into the net.
But Dundalk were back in front just three minutes later. Gray’s corner came off an Arklow defender and sat up invitingly for ex-Belvedere centre-half Clancy to fire in. With the home side controlling possession and all the play in the Arklow half, they looked to kill off the game. Kevin Loughran and Robbie Curran were causing problems down the wings, getting good crosses in, although Dundalk were unable to test the ‘keeper. However, it mattered little, as they were in total control and easily saw the game out, with a solid defensive performance throughout.
Dundalk now go into the semi-final draw alongside Shelbourne, Bohemians and Stella Maris.
Next Sunday, 1 April, Dundalk Youths take on Saint Joseph’s/Bray Wanderers in the Ferrari Cup (League Cup) semi-finals, with kick-off 11am at Oriel Park.
DUNDALK FC: Johnny Connolly, Ryan Duffy, Stephen Kilcoyne, Aidan Sheehy, Jack Clancy, Kevin Loughran, Robbie Curran (Jude Carroll 80), Seanie Crosbie, Kurt Murphy, Michael Gray, Daniel Hand (Ben McLaughlin 78).
Goals: D Hand (35), J Clancy (63).