Report: Dundalk 1-2 Drogheda United
Goals in either half from Daniel Corcoran and Philip Hand saw Drogheda United record their first Premier Division win over near neighbours Dundalk in 13 years as, despite Daniel Kearns’ late strike, they held out for a 2-1 victory at Oriel Park to end the North Louth side’s long unbeaten home record on Friday night. Corcoran appeared to be denied a perfectly good goal on 20 minutes but shortly after he headed in from 15-yards after a free-kick from Hand. The left-back then got in on the scoring act with another set-piece early in the second half as he fired a magnificent 35-yard free-kick to the top corner, and though Kearns scored late on, the visitors held on for a massive three points.
Dundalk manager Ian Foster made one change to the team that hammered Galway United 4-1 five days earlier as Colin Hawkins recovered from a bug to take his place in the starting lineup ahead of Johnny Breen, who dropped to the bench. Ex-Lilywhite striker Tiarnán Mulvenna was a surprise inclusion in the visiting lineup as he returned to League of Ireland football after leaving Oriel Park last term. The home side began very positively, with Greg Bolger almost finding Mark Griffin with a ball over the top before forcing three corners, all in the opening minutes. However, it was Drogheda who created the first real chance when, on five minutes, Mulvenna found himself in behind but his shot was taken wide by the boot of Peter Cherrie, the Scot making a fine save to deny his former teammate.
Dundalk continued to hold possession and probe, but on 12 minutes Hand saw a free-kick from close to 35-yards go narrowly wide of Cherrie’s top left-hand corner. At the other end, Kearns, with Simon Madden making another forward run down the right, decided to cut inside and he laid the ball off to Bolger whose first-time shot from 25-yards went over the crossbar. Past the quarter-hour mark, Keith Ward delivered a delightful ball over the top for Mark Quigley but the striker miscued when a good connection may have resulted in the deadlock being broken. On 20 minutes, Corcoran’s long-range shot was heading for the net but Cherrie made a fine save, though the ball bounced back towards goal and appeared to cross the line. With lineswoman Rhona Daly behind play, the officials decided not to award the goal. However, there was no doubt about his next effort as, with Cherrie advancing, Corcoran met Hand’s floated free-kick from halfway 15-yards out and headed to the empty net.
Dundalk tried to respond to that and Quigley cut in from the left and saw a low shot go narrowly wide of the far corner, before, past the half-hour mark, Shane Guthrie headed into the arms of Steven Trimble. Bolger then shot over the bar, before Foster decided to introduce Nathan Murphy in place of Ward, with Ross Gaynor pushing up to his usual position on the left side of midfield. On 39 minutes, Kearns did well on the right and delivered a brilliant cross into the six-yard box but there was nobody on the end of it. Three minutes before the break, Kearns’ corner was met by Guthrie who headed wide. On the stroke of half-time, Quigley lifted a quick free-kick into the path of Kearns inside the box and his cross was heading for Griffin who appeared to be fouled, but no penalty was given. Seconds later, Bolger fed Griffin whose sharp movement gave him space for a shot which was held by Trimble.
On 48 minutes, Drogheda made it 2-0 when Hand’s fantastic curling free-kick from 35-yards found Cherrie’s top corner. It could have been 3-0 five minutes later when Corcoran cut inside from the left and, from a tight angle, forced Cherrie to push away before the danger was fully cleared. The Scot then had to come off his line to clear with Mark O’Brien threatening. On the hour mark, a corner fell into the path of Quigley whose shot from 15-yards swerved wide. On 67 minutes, Gaynor’s cross from the left was headed down by Nathan Murphy into the path of Quigley whose shot from the edge of the box was gathered by the visiting ‘keeper. Dundalk tried hard to get back into the game but Trimble denied Griffin and Gaynor before Kearns grabbed a late goal, from a Hawkins pull-back, to set up an exciting finish. However, the Lilywhites couldn’t find an equaliser as their long unbeaten home record, stretching back to last October, came to an end.
DUNDALK FC: Peter Cherrie, Simon Madden ©, Colin Hawkins, Shane Guthrie (Johnny Breen 87), Ross Gaynor, Daniel Kearns, Greg Bolger, Dean Bennett (Philip Duffy 90), Mark Quigley, Mark Griffin, Keith Ward (Nathan Murphy 33).
Goal: D Kearns (86).
Booked: M Griffin (89).
Unused Subs: Paul Murphy (GK), Chris Kerr.
DROGHEDA UNITED: Steven Trimble, Mark Nolan (Cillian Thompson 90+2), Alan McNally, Victor Ekanem, Philip Hand, Stephen Quigley ©, Mark O’Brien, Brian Gannon, David Freeman, Daniel Corcoran, Tiarnán Mulvenna (Darragh Hanaphy 70).
Goals: D Corcoran (24), P Hand (48).
Unused Subs: David Quirke (GK), Darragh McNamara, Jordan Nolan, Stephen Campbell, Stephen McCrossan.
Referee: Tom Connolly (Dublin).