The 175th Louth Derby ended in victory for Dundalk at Oriel Park as the Lilywhites completed a clean sweep of victories over Drogheda United this season to keep their hopes of a late European surge alive.
In the week when the club marked the 120th anniversary of the founding of the GNR, the players emerged to a crackling atmosphere that was fed by local singer David Keenan’s rendition of El Paso efore kickoff.
Sam Durrant missed a glorious opportunity to put Dundalk in front and Adam Foley fired a drive against the foot of the Dundalk post before the Drogs drew first blood when Kyle Robinson, an early substitute for Ryan Brennan, slipped the ball past Nathan Shepperd with 25 minutes played.
It was the 25th time that Dundalk had conceded first this season but Stephen O’Donnell’s side showed no signs of panic and they deservedly pulled level when Paul Doyle’s right-footed volley arrowed its way into the bottom corner after Greg Sloggett’s header was blocked by Foley.
The second half was less than a minute old when the Lilwyhites got their noses in front. For the sixth time this year, Archie Davies was the provider, his cross turned past Andrew Wogan at the near post by Daniel Kelly on his 100th start for the club.
The outcome swung in Dundalk’s favour in the final quarter. Warren Davis saw a close-range header come back off the crossbar in the 72nd minute and Patrick Hoban punished the visitors for the miss when he headed a Daryl Horgan corner past Wogan just five minutes later.
The result moves Dundalk a point behind Shelbourne – who they meet at Tolka Park next week – in fifth place and three behind fourth-placed Bohemians, who visit Oriel Park in the penultimate game of the season in October.
DUNDALK FC: Nathan Shepperd; Archie Davies, Greg Sloggett, Darren Brownlie, Robbie Benson; Johannes Yli-Kokko (Hayden Muller 68), Paul Doyle (Alfie Lewis 78), Daryl Horgan (John Martin 78); Daniel Kelly, Patrick Hoban (Senan Mullen 92), Sam Durrant (Ryan O’Kane 67). Subs not used: Peter Cherrie, Darragh Leahy, Cameron Elliott, Keith Ward.
DROGHEDA UNITED: Andrew Wogan; Luke Heeney, Jamie Egan, Evan Weir, Conor Kane; Gary Deegan, Matthew O’Brien; Adam Foley, Darragh Markey (Warren Davis 62), Dayle Rooney (Luke Wade Slater 78); Ryan Brennan (Kyle Robinson 20). Subs not used: Ryan Maher (GK), Colm Cox, Jarlath Jones, Emre Topcu, Darragh Noone, Michael Leddy.
REFEREE: Rob Hennessy. ATTENDANCE: 2,827.