A miserable night in May
Patrick Hoban helped Dundalk to make the most of a bad situation as his 51st minute header decided this miserable contest against Bray Wanderers.
After a depressing first half Stephen Kenny made a double change at the break and one of those replacements – Darren Meenan – delivered the corner that the striker nodded past Darren Quigley to decide the contest.
Victory for Dundalk at the Carlisle Grounds had seen them cement their fourth place spot while it seen the Seagulls drop to the foot of the table as a consequence of Shelbourne's success over UCD on Friday.
In a first half that was a cure for insomnia, neither goalkeeper had anything of note to do and the highlight was a fierce drive from Bray's John Mulroy that flew over.
Stephen Kenny was clearly just as disheartened by what he had witnessed as the few in attendance at the seaside venue and he acted; sending on Meenan and Kurtis Byrne in place of John Dillon and Tiarnan Mulvenna respectively.
Kenny's plans almost came undone when Lilywhite goalkeeper Peter Cherrie came close to gifting the hosts the lead in calamitous fashion on 50 minutes. The shot-stopper came to claim Conor Earley's hopeful punt but he slipped at the vital moment. Fortunately for the custodian, centre half Andy Boyle reacted before Bray winger Kevin Knight and he hacked clear.
A minute later the goal arrived. Meenan delivered an in-swinger from the right and Hoban was able to plant a header home from his unmarked position six yards out.
The same corner kick routine almost proved profitable ten minutes later. Instead of Hoban, it was Keith Ward who was on the end of this delivery and the diminutive winger opted to use his feet instead of his head but Quigley was equal to it.
In the minutes that followed that chance there was some movement on the Seagulls bench and Bray followers will not have been surprised to see Ismahil Akinade being stripped and readied for action. They may have been surprised to see that the Nigerian-born striker was set to replace Jason Byrne. The twice-capped Republic of Ireland international seemed shocked that it was him who was being hauled off and he trudged off the pitch before immediately heading towards the changing rooms.
Cork City mustered a few telling late goals at the Co. Wicklow club on Monday evening and Bray threatened to do the same when Gary Dempsey was brought down on the edge of the penalty area but David Webster skied the resultant free kick.
Keith Ward stood facing a similar dead-ball situation minutes later and although his effort was on target, Quigley flung himself to his right to turn it behind.
One would think staring down the barrel of a seventh consecutive defeat was a bitter enough pill to swallow but things did get worse for the hosts when Shane O'Neill – a 71st minute replacement for Kevin Knight – struggled from the field of play with what emerged to be a broken bone in his hand and the 24-year-old is now set for a spell on the sidelines.
Top Form: Stephen O'Donnell (Dundalk): Veteran midfielder still has it.