Dundalk Surge Four Points Clear!
Dundalk extended their lead at the summit of the SSE Airtricity League table to four points when they defeated Cork City 2-1 in front of a huge crowd at Oriel Park on Tuesday night.
Daryl Horgan struck twice – although the first one could be claimed as a Mark McNulty own goal – in the first half to make it 2-0 while Mark O’Sullivan pulled one back however it wasn’t enough and the champions won the battle at Oriel to make a statement about their title defence.
Dundalk got off to the perfect start when Patrick McEleney showed terrific quick feet to shift past Bennett and he had no choice but to bring him down. Up stepped former Leesider Daryl Horgan who curled a wonderful shot to the top left corner via the post and Mark McNulty.
That followed a frenetic period from the off with both teams attempting to stamp their authority on the game without much success.
Cork City did settle into the game though and a couple of high balls into netminder Gabriel Sava was an early test for him but he dealt with them all with ease.
David McMillan got ahead of Bennett to direct a half volley towards goal but it was into the arms of McNulty before Horgan scuffed an effort after Dane Massey raided down the left wing.
The match was played at a high pace and despite there being little in the way of chances it was a fascinating contest and it was 2-0 ten minutes before the break. Gavan Holohan had the ball on the edge of the Dundalk box and he was dispossessed by Stephen O’Donnell and the ball was picked up by Horgan.
This was 20 yards from his own goal but he surged forward and danced past Greg Bolger who could only watch him as he ran by. The winger set up a superb 3v2 situation and with McMillan and McEleney as options either side of him, he decided to go it alone and drove through the centre before firing a rasping shot to the roof of the net beyond McNulty.
It was 2-0 at the break but Cork came out with new energy in the second half and Sean Maguire raced through on goal from a Buckley pass but Sava was alert to the danger.
It was 2-1 though on 56 minutes when Beattie’s cross wasn’t properly cleared and Mark O’Sullivan reacted quickest in the box and he prodded home past Sava.
That put a nervousness about the locals however it was the hosts who responded better when Horgan’s free-kick was deflected into the path of McNulty however he was able to deal with it at the second attempt.
Horgan again tried his luck but it flew over the bar while Mountney’s ball into the box caused some panic but McNulty punched the ball clear.
Ronan Finn looked to have a chance to make it 3-1 with 15 minutes to go however Greg Bolger’s last ditch tackle was into the path of Mountney but his effort was blocked by O’Connor.
Despite being behind, the expected onslaught from Cork City never came and the Lilywhites managed to see the game out with referee Tomas Connolly blowing the full-time whistle after 5 minutes injury-time to seal a famous victory for Dundalk!
DUNDALK: Gabriel Sava; Alan Keane (Paddy Barrett 90), Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle, Dane Massey; Ronan Finn, Stephen O’Donnell (capt); John Mountney, Patrick McEleney (Chris Shields 58), Daryl Horgan; David McMillan (Ciaran O’Connor 83).
Substitutes not used: Shane Grimes, Dean Shiels, Darren Meenan, Gary Rogers (GK)
Booked: Gartland (18), O’Donnell (33), Horgan (68), Massey (75)
Sent off: None.
CORK CITY: Mark McNulty; Steven Beattie, Alan Bennett, Kenny Browne, Kevin O’Connor; Greg Bolger (capt), Gavan Holohan (Mark O’Sullivan 54), Garry Buckley, Karl Sheppard (Chiedozie Ogbene 74), Stephen Dooley (Dave Mulcahy 85); Sean Maguire.
Substitutes not used: Colin Healy, Danny Morrissey, Michael McSweeney, Eric Grimes (GK)
Booked: Buckley (21), Bolger (44), Beattie (54), Browne (90)
Sent off: None.
Referee: Tomas Connolly
Attendance: 4, 196