Late Goals Seal Malone Cup Win
Dundalk retained the Jim Malone Cup at Oriel Park on Saturday evening with a 3-1 win over Drogheda United.
Lee Duffy had given Drogheda the lead in the first half however Stephen Folan equalised before half-time. A late penalty from Michael Duffy put the Lilywhites in front and Dylan Connolly made it 3-1 in the final moments to seal the win and the third successive Malone Cup for Stephen Kenny’s men.
It was a lively opening with Dundalk threatening twice as Ronan Murray struck the crossbar from 35 yards with a wonderful free-kick before Dylan Connolly had a shot blocked after a defensive mix up.
Drogheda did take the lead somewhat against the run of play when Lee Duffy created space for himself 30 yards from goal and unleashed a thunderbolt towards the top right hand corner. It went in off the underside of the crossbar leaving Gabriel Sava stranded.
The goal didn’t particularly spring Dundalk into life although they did lose John Mountney through injury on the 20 minute mark.
The equaliser did come though when Connolly drew a free-kick on the right hand side near the touch line.
From that kick Duffy’s cross wasn’t defended at all and it fell to Stephen Folan. He managed to compose himself and finish to the net for his second goal in two pre-season matches.
The visitors looked like they were going to re-take the lead though when Luke Rossiter spotted Sava off his line and despite being 10 yards inside his own half, the Drogheda midfielder forced a good save from the goalkeeper who tipped it onto the crossbar while back pedaling.
Straight away though Dundalk should have gone in front for the first time when Duffy brilliantly pulled back for Robbie Benson however he could only divert his shot inches wide of the target.
Dundalk were on the front foot again and Benson had another chance to put the side in front as he found Murray’s cross with a looping header however it crashed off the crossbar.
The rebound fell to Jeff McGowan, who put it wide, and was offside anyway.
There was no further action and the game was level at the break.
In the second half it was Dundalk who had all of the possession but didn’t create anything of note early on.
Murray fired well over the bar from 30 yards while Duffy teed himself up for a shot from the edge of the area but he hit straight at Skinner.
Duffy was the architect next time and he found Folan who almost grabbed his second but he hit the crossbar and the follow up fell to him again however he skied it over the bar.
It would be 2-1 though as the game looked headed for stalemate when Connolly was brought down in the box.
Duffy stepped up and sent Paul Skinner the wrong way.
It was 3-1 moments later when Connolly himself intercepted the ball inside his own half and powered forward, surging past 6 Drogheda players before sliding the ball perfectly to the net past Skinner.
That proved to be the final action of note as Dundalk were 3-1 winners on the night.
DUNDALK: Gabriel Sava (Ross Treacy 89); Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland (capt), Stephen Folan, Dean Jarvis (Gavin Smith 84); Robbie Benson (Jack O’Keeffe 76), Chris Shields (Georgie Poynton 62), John Mountney (Michael Duffy 20); Dylan Connolly, Jeff McGowan (Cian Flynn 88) Ronan Murray (Adam Finnegan 86).
Substitutes not used: None.
DROGHEDA UNITED: Paul Skinner; Colm Deasy, Jake Hyland (capt), Mark Doyle, Luke Rossiter; Sean Brennan, Conor Kane, Kevin Farragher, Ciaran Kelly; Lee Duffy, Chris Lyons.
Substitutes: Stephen Meaney, Kealan Dillon, Jordan Kelly, James Carroll, Victor Ekanem, Lloyd Buckley, Adam Kimet, Garreth McCaffrey, Luca Gratzer (GK)