A hat-trick for Patrick Hoban, which saw him equal Joey Donnelly’s all-time club goalscoring record, helped Dundalk get back to winning ways with a 4-1 victory over UCD at Oriel Park on Bank Holiday Monday.
Stephen O’Donnell’s men went into the game on the back of one draw and three defeats in their previous four games and they got off to the worst possible start when Jake Doyle put the Premier Division’s bottom side in front after just seven minutes.
The Lilywhites turned it around before the break, though, as goals from Hoban, from the penalty spot, and Daniel Kelly put them in front before the Loughrea man’s second-half double saw him equal a record that was set back in 1946.
O’Donnell made four changes to the side that was beaten by Shamrock Rovers three nights earlier with Louie Annesley, Johannes Yli-Kokko, Ryan O’Kane and Cameron Elliott all named in the starting XI.
Dundalk started brightly with Darragh Leahy and Daniel Kelly both going close early on but they were rocked with just seven minutes played when a mix-up at the back between Andy Boyle and Nathan Shepperd allowed Jake Doyle to take advantage and he rolled the ball into an empty net.
It was the worst possible start for the Lilywhites but they responded well and Leahy got up well again to meet another Ryan O’Kane delivery but his header just cleared the angle of the crossbar and post and Yli-Kokko was then denied by a strong wrist from Moore after getting a second bite at his effort.
The equaliser duly arrived in the 23rd minute. Alex Nolan kicked Yli-Kokko as he attempted to clear and when referee Damien MacGraith pointed to the spot, Hoban made no mistake to bring up his 140th goal for the club.
O’Donnell’s men should have gone in front two minutes later when Elliott teed Kelly up but his drive somehow went wide and the winger threatened again in the 27th minute, rising to meet Leahy’s cross but he couldn’t direct his header on target.
Dundalk continued to dominate the ball, fishing the half with 73% possession, and Elliott’s downward header was tipped wide by Moore after Kelly raced to the byline to meet Boyle’s raking pass.
It looked like the visitors would get to the break on level terms but Kelly got the goal his first-half display deserved when he pounced on Hoban’s downward header to prod the ball past Moore from close range to put Dundalk in front at the interval.
HT: Dundalk FC 2-1 UCD
Dundalk were given some breathing space eight minutes after the restart when Kelly rolled the ball back for Archie Davies to cross and his delivery was thumped home by the head of Hoban.
O’Kane was desperately unlucky not to make it 4-1 on the hour mark when he cut in from the left but his drive came back off the inside of the post. Cami Elliott then jinked his way into a few shooting positions but Moore did well to smother his effort.
Hoban’s final act of the evening was a historic one. With 69 minutes on the clock, he positioned himself perfectly to meet Leahy’s cross at the far post to complete his fifth hat-trick for the club and cement his place in the history books.
The hosts had chances to add to their tally with Greg Sloggett and substitute John Martin both going close as they closed it out comfortably to move back into fifth place in the SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division table.
FT: Dundalk FC 4-1 UCD
DUNDALK FC: Nathan Shepperd, Archie Davies (Hayden Muller 78), Andy Boyle, Louie Annesley, Darragh Leahy, Daniel Kelly (Keith Ward 71), Greg Sloggett (John Martin 78), Johannes Yli-Kokko (Connor Malley 80), Ryan O’Kane, Cameron Elliott, Patrick Hoban (Paul Doyle 71). Subs not used: Eoin Kenny, Rayhaan Tulloch, Peter Cherrie (GK), Mark Byrne (GK).
UCD: Kian Moore, Brendan Barr, Harvey O’Brien (Ryan Bowden 59), Jack Keaney, Michael Gallagher, Evan Osam, Alex Nolan (Daniel Babb 60), Adam Wells, Ciaran Behan (Danu Kinsella Bishop 9), Daniel Norris (Kyle Donoghue 59), Jake Doyle. Subs not used: Lorcan Healy (GK), Dara Keane.
REFEREE: Damien MacGraith. ATTENDANCE: 1,762.