Sunday 4 December 2016

Kenny hails hat-trick hero Finn as 'one of league's best midfielders'

Longford Town 0 Dundalk 4

Published 11/04/2016 | 02:30

Dundalk's Ronan Finn celebrates after scoring his side's fourth, and his third goal of the game. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile
Dundalk's Ronan Finn celebrates after scoring his side's fourth, and his third goal of the game. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile
Dundalk's Ronan Finn is tackled by Longford Town's David O'Sullivan. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile

Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny hailed Ronan Finn as one of the best midfielders in the country after his hat-trick sank Longford at the City Calling Stadium.

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The win, their fourth from four on the road this season, puts the champions back top of the table on goal difference, leaving Longford languishing at the bottom.

Utterly dominant from the start, Finn put Dundalk ahead from an 11th-minute penalty after Sean Gannon had been upended by Kaleem Simon.

Defender Brian Gartland headed home Darren Meenan's corner to double the lead 12 minutes later for what was Dundalk's 1,000 Premier Division goal.

Finn added the third goal with a 78th-minute side-footer following incisive approach play by Daryl Horgan and David McMillan, and he completed his hat-trick nine minutes later after Horgan shot's was cleared off the line by Josh O'Hanlon.

"Ronan has been one of the best midfield players in the league in the modern era," said Kenny.

"Over the last half-a-dozen years, he's been a really exceptional player, often underrated, though not by me.

"He got a hat-trick and he also made a brilliant tackle right at the death. He does everything. He's selfless for the team. He works and works and works.

"He had to adapt last year and play as an out-and-out No 10 behind the striker. He dovetailed brilliantly with Richie Towell in that regard.

"Ronan likes coming from deeper and playing in a more central midfield position because he can get more involved in the game facing the goal.

"It's great to have somebody who can tactically adjust to playing either the central midfield role, in the central advanced area and also right or left of a three in midfield. He's a very influential player for us."

The irony of the night was that the pitch passing an inspection following recent rain suited Dundalk to a tee.

"We were told when getting on the bus at 1.0 that there was a pitch inspection and the game might be off. It was the best pitch we've played on this season," beamed Kenny.

Longford Town - Skinner; Hughes, Haverty, Flynn, O'Reilly; McGlynn (Chambers, 82), Gannon (McKeown, 76), O'Connor, Simon; O'Sullivan (Cowan, 70), O'Hanlon.

Dundalk - Rogers; Gannon, Gartland, Boyle, Massey; Meenan, Finn, O'Donnell (Barrett, 80), Horgan; Kilduff (Mountney, 70), McMillan (O'Connor, 83).

Ref - G Kelly (Cork).

Gypsies too good for shot-shy Bray

Bray Wanderers 0 Bohemians 2

At the fourth time of asking, Bohemians recorded their first Premier Division away win of the season with a goal in each half at the Carlisle Grounds.

An unseasonal snow shower just before kick-off left a sprinkle of white on the pitch where both teams lined out in their away kits due to a clash of colours.

Having lost on the road to Cork, Galway and St. Pat's, the visitors took the lead on the half hour when defender Daniel Byrne scored his first goal in two years when heading in Lorcan Fitzgerald's corner.

The Gypsies doubled their advantage with 20 minutes to go. Former Seagull Paddy Kavanagh launched a free into the box, Bray 'keeper Peter Cherrie failed to claim and Aymen Ben Mohamed drilled it home from a tight left angle.

"It's our first points away from home - we're nowhere near the finished article," said Bohs' manager Keith Long whose side had no less than six ex-Bray players in their squad.

"We started the season slowly. Hopefully we'll click into gear now."

On the back of three successive victories in all competitions, Long added: "We had a tough start to the season. Hopefully that's behind us now. We've put back-to-back League wins together with two clean sheets."

Wanderers' boss Mick Cooke bemoaned his team's defensive lapses.

"Unfortunately, in the last couple of games, set-pieces have killed us. We've conceded three goals from corners and free-kicks," he said.

"We've dominated possession. And when you have that, you have to score. Yet we've come away with no points. That's disappointing."

BRAY WANDERERS - Cherrie; Douglas, Kenna, McNally, Harding; Connolly, Brennan, Creevy (Alan Byrne 33), Moore (Marks 69); Kelly (Pender 64), Lewis.

BOHEMIANS - Delany; Pender, Prendergast, Daniel Byrne, Lopes; Fitzgerald, Kavanagh, Wearen, Buckley (Kurtis Byrne 80), Ben Mohamed (Kelly 85); Akinade (Evans 90 + 2).

Ref - Derek Tomney (Dublin)

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