Dundalk’s six-game unbeaten run came to an end on Monday night as Derry City recorded just their second win over the Lilywhites at the Ryan McBride Brandywell since 2012.
Jordan McEneff’s first-half strike put the hosts in the driving seat at the interval and further goals after the break from Brandon Kavanagh and Michael Duffy condemned Dundalk to their first defeat since April.
Stephen O’Donnell made three changes to the side that beat Cork City in thrilling fashion three nights earlier with Robbie McCourt, Johannes Yli-Kokko and Paul Doyle all named in the starting XI but Rayhaan Tulloch missed out with the injury that saw him limp off against the Leesiders.
The natives had the first effort of the night in the 13th minute when Michael Duffy cut in from the left and let fly with a trademark effort that Nathan Shepperd had to help around the post.
The Candystripes continued to press and they drew first blood in the 20th minute. Darragh Leahy’s pass was deflected into the air and Cian Kavanagh’s flick found McEneff on the inside right and he fired the ball across Shepperd and in via the post.
The Dundalk goalkeeper stood up well to deny McEneff shortly after, although a raised flag would have ruled the goal out in any case, and the visitors were dealt another blow when Darragh Leahy limped off in the 24th minute to be replaced by Ryan O’Kane.
The Lilywhites struggled to create anything in the opening period but a forceful run by Yli-Kokko ended with John Martin going down in the box but referee Robert Harvey dismissed the Dundalk shouts for a penalty.
HT: Derry City 1-0 Dundalk FC
Dundalk enjoyed good spells of possession in the early stages of the second half but they were thankful to Paul Doyle, who found himself in the right place at the right time to hack McEneff’s header right off the line in the 53rd minute.
The Lilywhites weren’t as fortunate from the next set piece. Duffy’s delivery from the left was headed clear by John Martin but Brandon Kavanagh picked it up, drove past two Dundalk players, and smacked a stunning effort past Shepperd with his left foot from 18 yards.
O’Donnell introduced Patrick Hoban and Daniel Kelly in a bid to get back into the fame but Derry continued to create openings and Cian Kavanagh and Ronan Boyce both failed to get on the end of a low ball across the face of goal by Duffy before Shepperd made a fine save to deny Cian Kavanagh.
Keith Ward and Cami Elliott were also dispatched to try and salvage something and the latter should have pulled Dundalk back into it in the 75th minute when he found the ball at his feet with just Brian Maher to beat after a mix-up between Cameron McJannett and Ben Doherty but he blazed his effort over the crossbar. Another chance went begging four minutes later when Ryan O’Kane picked out Hoban but his header went agonisingly wide of Maher’s right-hand post.
The result was put to bed with seven minutes to play when Duffy prodded the ball into an empty net after a powerful run by Adam O’Reilly left Connor Malley and Wasiri Williams trailing in his wake on the right.
DERRY CITY: Brian Maher, Ronan Boyce, Shane McEleney (Ciaran Coll 35), Cameron McJannet, Ben Doherty, Sadou Diallo (Will Patching 86), Adam O’Reilly, Brandon Kavanagh (Cameron Dummigan 70), Jordan McEneff (Ollie O’Neill 70), Michael Duffy, Cian Kavanagh (Ryan Graydon 70). Subs not used: Tadhg Ryan (GK), Jamie McGonigle, Matthew Ward, Sean Patton.
DUNDALK FC: Nathan Shepperd, Archie Davies, Hayden Muller, Wasiri Williams, Darragh Leahy (Ryan O’Kane 24), Robbie McCourt (Keith Ward 73), Johannes Yli-Kokko (Patrick Hoban 68), Alfie Lewis, Paul Doyle (Daniel Kelly 68), Connor Malley, John Martin (Cameron Elliott 73). Subs not used: Eoin Kenny, Peter Cherrie (GK), Mark Byrne (GK).
REFEREE: Robert Harvey.