The 173rd meeting between Dundalk and Drogheda United turned out to be a memorable one as John Martin’s injury-time winner secured the Lilywhites one of the most dramatic Louth Derby victories in living memory.
Stephen O’Donnell made two changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Shelbourne seven days earlier with captain Patrick Hoban and Dundalk-native Ryan O’Kane named in the starting XI.
And both players had a major part to play as Dundalk hit the front in the 25th minute when Hoban’s pass cuts the Drogs’ backline open and O’Kane raced through to slip the ball past Colin McCabe.
That goal came shortly after Nathan Shepperd made a brilliant save to deny Darragh Markey and Dundalk took full advantage, doubling their lead just shy of the half-hour.
Johannes Yli Kokko’s shot was saved by McCabe but it fell kindly for Hoban who rammed it home despite the presence of two players in maroon shirts on the line. It was Hoban’s 137th goal for Dundalk, leaving him just five short of equalling Joey Donnelly’s club record.
HT: Dundalk FC 2-0 Drogheda United
The hosts started the second half in the box seat and things looked even more rosier when Drogs captain Gary Deegan was sent off for a second bookable offence with 51 minutes played.
Oriel Park was stunned into silence, though, as goals from Dayle Rooney and Freddie Draper hauled the 10-men back on level terms, the latter’s 72nd-minute equaliser coming after a slip by Hayden Muller.
O’Donnell turned to his bench and Martin was thrown into the fray with 14 minutes to play but it looked like Dundalk’s wait for a win would extend to a seventh game when the fourth official’s board showed that an additional five minutes were to be played.
That left time for one more attack and Archie Davies’ forceful run into the Drogheda penalty area bore fruit when Hoban managed to force the ball into Matin’s path and he showed great composure to find the bottom corner to spark bedlam in the old ground.
FT: Dundalk FC 3-2 Drogheda United
DUNDALK FC: Nathan Shepperd, Archie Davies, Hayden Muller, Darragh Leahy, Robbie Benson, Johannes Yli-Kokko (John Martin 76), Connor Malley, Keith Ward (Paul Doyle 90), Ryan O’Kane (Alfie Lewis 70), Patrick Hoban, Rayhaan Tulloch. Subs not used: Robbie McCourt, Eoin Kenny, Sean Bannon, Craig Moore, Peter Cherrie (GK), Mark Byrne (GK).
DROGHEDA UNITED: Colin McCabe, Evan Weir (Luke Heaney 25), Conor Keeley, Emmanuel Adegboyega, Dayle Rooney, Ryan Brennan, Gary Deegan, Dylan Grimes, Elicha Ahui (Michael Leddy 90), Freddie Draper (Adam Foley 89), Darragh Markey. Subs not used: Fiachra Pagel (GK), Andrew Wogan, Emre Topcu, Aaron McNally, Warren Davis.
REFEREE: Neil Doyle. ATTENDANCE: 2,825.