Patrick Hoban was officially crowned as Dundalk Football Club’s greatest-ever goalscorer as his brace helped the Lilywhites to a dramatic win in the 174th Louth Derby at Weaver’s Park on Friday night.
After equalling Joey Donnelly’s record with a hat-trick over UCD at Oriel Park on the June Bank Holiday, Hoban moved into a league of his own when he planted a trademark header past Drogs goalkeeper Andrew Wogan to register his 143rd goal for the club and wipe out Adam Foley’s first-half opener.
The 31-year-old wasn’t finished and goal number 144 followed from the penalty spot shortly after as the Lilywhites claimed their third derby win of the season.
Stephen O’Donnell made two changes to the side that won in Cork before the mid-season break with Connor Malley and John Martin, who scored the winner on Leeside, restored to the starting XI in place of Johannes Yli-Kokko and Cameron Elliott. Elsewhere, Darragh Leahy made his 100th start for the club.
The hosts sounded an early warning when Dayle Rooney’s corner was met by the head of former Lilywhites defender Emmanuel Adegboyega but he headed over the top with just five minutes played.
Dundalk failed to heed the warning and the Drogs drew first blood four minutes later. Darragh Markey’s corner from the left was met by Freddy Draper and Adam Foley was left unmarked to turn the ball past Nathan Shepperd from no more than three yards out.
It was the 15th time that Dundalk had conceded first in their opening 22 games, 14 of those coming in the first half of matches.
O’Donnell’s men eventually settled and they should have restored parity on the half hour. Malley’s brilliant pass found the run of Daniel Kelly from outside to in but the winger put his efforts wide of Andrew Wogan’s post.
Ryan O’Kane registered Dundalk’s first attempt on goal when he cut in from the left and hit a low drive which Wogan safely gathered at the second attempt and the Drogheda ‘keeper had Adegboyega to thank for keeping his goal intact in first-half stoppage time when the defender’s leg stopped Hoban’s effort from an O’Kane corner from going over the line.
HT: Drogheda United 1-0 Dundalk FC
Kevin Doherty’s side continued to pose problems from set pieces in the second half and Conor Keely flashed a half-volley over the crossbar after Dundalk failed to deal with another corner just five minutes after the restart.
The Lilywhites were then let off the hook in major fashion when Freddy Draper beat Shepperd only to see his shot hit both posts and fall at the feet of Darragh Leahy who hacked it away to safety.
The on-loan striker from Lincoln City, who was named as the SWI Player of the Month for May earlier in the week, then hit the side netting after powerfully breaking through on the inside right three minutes later.
O’Donnell reacted by introducing Robbie McCourt, Cameron Elliott and Rayhaan Tulloch into the fray and the substitutes played their part in the equaliser in the 77th minute.
Elliott’s curling cross to the back post was headed across goal by McCourt and Hoban left Wogan with no chance with a history-making header.
The derby was completely turned on its head Just three minutes later when Ryan O’Kane was bundled over in the penalty area by Adegboyega. Referee Robert Harvey pointed to the spot, with Draper’s comments earning him a red card, and Hoban made no mistake from 12 yards.
Adegboyega almost drew the hosts level with a late free-kick that Shepperd did well to turn over and O’Kane went close to sealing it for Dundalk with a couple of efforts in stoppage time but the night belonged, once again, to Patrick Hoban, the greatest Dundalk striker of all time. Officially.
FT: Drogheda United 1-2 Dundalk FC
DROGHEDA UNITED: Andrew Wogan; Elicha Ahui, Emmanuel Adegboyega, Conor Keeley, Aaron McNally (Warren Davis 83); Gary Deegan, Ryan Brennan; Adam Foley (Dylan Grimes 75), Darragh Markey, Dayle Rooney; Freddie Draper. Subs not used: Colin McCabe (GK), Matthew O’Brien, Jarlath Jones, Emre Topcu, Luke Heeney, Darragh Noone, Michael Leddy
DUNDALK FC: Nathan Shepperd; Archie Davies, Andy Boyle, Louis Annesley, Darragh Leahy (Robbie McCourt 62); Greg Sloggett, Connor Malley; Ryan O’Kane, Daniel Kelly (Rayhaan Tulloch, 61), John Martin (Cameron Elliott 62); Patrick Hoban (Paul Doyle 90). Subs not used: Hayden Muller, Keith Ward, Johannes Yli-Kokko, Eoin Kenny, Peter Cherrie (GK).
REFEREE: Robert Harvey.