Superb Lilywhites Defeat Rovers
Dundalk maintained their four point lead at the top of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division and kept their bid for a third league title in a row on track with a terrific 3-0 win at Tallaght Stadium against Shamrock Rovers.
Second half goals from Brian Gartland, Dane Massey and Ciaran Kilduff were enough to seal victory on a miserable night in Dublin 24.
Dundalk got off to a bright start when Ronan Finn’s excellent through ball was to the feet of David McMillan however Barry Murphy got out well to smother the chance while Patrick McEleney skied a long range effort after being laid off to by McMillan.
Skipper Stephen O’Donnell limped off with an injury after 13 minutes but despite that blow McEleney had the best chance just before the 20th minute when Alan Keane’s cross was headed back across goal by McMillan to the roaming midfielder however he fired over from the edge of the six yard area.
Dave Webster then misplaced a pass to McMillan and he played in Daryl Horgan however his shot with his left foot was gathered at the second attempt by Murphy.
Dundalk were dominant in the opening period with Finn drilling wide from 30 yards and Horgan also had an effort sail wide of the post as the game approached the break.
Brandon Miele had Rovers first effort on goal in injury-time at the end of the first half and that was the final action of a scoreless opening period.
Dundalk began the second half on the front foot again with Finn once again trying his luck from distance but pulled his shot wide while Horgan as well had a snap shot tipped over the bar for a corner.
From the resulting corner it was John Mountney’s delivery was onto the head of Brian Gartland and he nodded towards goal but it was blocked by Murphy back to Gartland who scrambled the ball to the net for the crucial opening goal.
The Lilywhites were confident now and Alan Keane went on a surging run through the heart of the Rovers defence and found himself in space to shoot after exchanging passes with Mountney but appeared to be fouled by Sean Heaney. Referee Paul McLaughlin waved away the protests and the ball fell to McEleney who had a shot blocked.
It was 2-0 just after the hour mark when some superb play after another Mountney corner resulted in Gartland playing a wonderfully lofted ball to substitute Ciaran Kilduff and he lifted the ball over the goalkeeper who was rushing out. It was placed onto the left foot of Dane Massey who fired to the net for his 15th Dundalk goal.
Gartland himself had a chance to add a second when Andy Boyle missed a header from another Mountney corner however it came off Garts’ shin and the ball went just wide of the target.
It was 3-0 and game over in the 71st minute when Mountney superbly won possession back and passed it out to the SSE Airtricity Man of the Match Finn on the right wing and his outstanding ball to the waiting Kilduff in the box was expertly controlled by the striker. He had the composure to finish the ball to the right corner out of the reach of the goalkeeper despite scuffing the effort.
Rovers had their sole effort of the second half in the 76th minute when Gary Shaw got the better of Gabriel Sava however Gartland was the saviour and he cleared the danger.
Horgan himself had a chance to add to the tally when he picked the ball up 30 yards from goal and played a one-two with Finn before having his first shot blocked. The ball ricocheted back to the SSE Airtricity/SWAI September Player of the Month and he found himself through on goal however his effort was blocked by Murphy who spread himself well.
That proved to be the final action of note and Dundalk were worthy winners on the night picking up a vital 3 points!
SHAMROCK ROVERS: Barry Murphy; Simon Madden, Dave Webster, David O’Connor, Trevor Clarke; Dean Clarke (Luke Kiely 63), Sean Boyd, Gary McCabe (capt), Sean Heaney; Brandon Miele (James Doona 65); Gary Shaw.
Substitutes not used: Robert Cornwall, Conor Gleeson, Shane Hanney, Aaron Dobbs, Darragh Gibbons
Booked: Heaney (60), O’Connor (78), T. Clarke (80)
Sent off: None.
DUNDALK: Gabriel Sava; Alan Keane; Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle, Dane Massey; Ronan Finn, Stephen O’Donnell (capt) (Chris Shields 13); John Mountney, Patrick McEleney *Dean Shiels 77), Daryl Horgan; David McMillan (Ciaran Kilduff 54)
Substitutes not used: Robbie Benson, Paddy Barrett, Darren Meenan, Gary Rogers (GK)
Booked: Massey (86)
Sent off: None.
Attendance: 1,500 (estimate)
Referee: Paul McLaughlin