The Jim Malone Cup will remain in Drogheda for another 12 months after the hosts won the latest edition of the annual pre-season encounter on penalties at Weaver’s Park.
Dundalk controlled much of the play and created the better chances but they couldn’t make the breakthrough and after a scoreless 90 minutes, the Boynesiders emerged victorious in the shootout for the ninth time since the competition began in 1997.
After both sides scored with their opening five attempts, the crucial moment came when Louie Annesley, who had a fine game at the back, saw his effort saved by teenage Drogs goalkeeper Andrew Wogan.
Stephen O’Donnell’s men started in lively fashion and a combination of Drogheda centre-back and goalkeeper Colin McCabe denied John Martin from point-blank range after he met Ryan O’Kane’s pull back.
At the other end, Dayle Rooney fired just over the bar while Conor Malley, who was Dundalk’s best and most creative player on the night, saw a deflected effort just go wide of the post after he created an opening with some good footwork on the edge of the box.
Dundalk continued to have spells of good possession and Patrick Hoban shot wide from distance before referee Neil Doyle brought a scoreless first half to an end.
HT: Drogheda United 0-0 Dundalk FC
The Lilywhites continued on the front foot in the early stages of the second half and a corner from Keith Ward landed perfectly onto the rising Hoban but his header flashed narrowly wide of the target.
Dundalk lacked incision after that and the Drogs almost capitalised when Hayden Muller’s weak header allowed Rooney the chance to lob Peter Cherrie but the ball sailed over the bar.
Robbie Benson, who along with Darragh Leahy came off the bench for his first involvement of 2023, looked like he had opened the scoring with just 10 minutes remaining but his effort was deflected wide.
Greg Sloggett was next to try his luck but he couldn’t find the target from a Louie Annesley’s low, driven ball across the face of goal.
FT: Drogheda United 0-0 Dundalk FC
Penalty kicks decided the outcome and after both sides hit the target with their opening five efforts – Hoban, Cami Elliott, Connor Malley, Benson and Alfie Lewis all making no mistake – it went to sudden death.
Keeley slipped his effort past Cherrie to make it 6-5 and Drogheda maintained their 100% record in Jim Malone Cup shootouts when Wogan got down to make a good stop from Annesley to send the locals home happy.
PENS: Drogheda United 6-5 Dundalk FC
DROGHEDA UNITED: Colin McCabe; Elicha Ahui, Ben Curtis (Emmanuel Adegboyega 69), Conor Keeley, Evan Weir; Darragh Markey, Gary Deegan; Ryan Brennan (Emre Topcu 63), Dayle Rooney, Freddie Draper (Michael Leddy 69); Adam Foley (Aaron McNally 63). Subs not used: Andrew Wogan (GK), Emmanuel Adegboyega, Jarlath Jones, Warren Davis, Callum Ralph, Victor Arong.
DUNDALK FC: Peter Cherrie; Andy Boyle, Hayden Muller (Darragh Leahy 63), Louie Annesley; Greg Sloggett, Keith Ward (Alfie Lewis 63); Archie Davies, Conor Malley, Ryan O’Kane (Cameron Elliott 63); John Martin (Robbie Benson 63), Patrick Hoban. Subs not used: Eoin Kenny, Mark Byrne, Callum Bonner, Oisin Coleman, Jake Hough, Anthony Mayo.
REFEREE: Neil Doyle.