O'Donnell calls shots as Dundalk bounce back in style
St Patrick's Athletic 0 Dundalk 4
While we may still be figuring out how good this new-look St Pat’s team is, it was the dominant Dundalk of old who bounced back at Richmond Park last night as they cruised to a victory that lifted them back to the top of the table.
Stephen Kenny would have demanded a response from his side and it took them all of nine minutes to put last week’s defeat to Cork behind them.
In Stephen O’Donnell, Dundalk had the best player on the pitch and, as well as dictating the tempo throughout, he put his side in front after nine minutes following a really poor mistake in the Pat’s defence.
Goals from substitute David McMillan and Daryl Horgan in a rampant six-minute second-half spell as well as a late Brian Gartland header ensured that the Lilywhites got their title defence back on track.
A defensive mix-up between Shane McEleney and Keith Treacy allowed O’Donnell to intercept a sloppy pass and the Dundalk skipper showed great composure to coolly slot the ball past Brendan Clarke with his left foot.
Ciaran Kilduff almost doubled the visitors’ lead two minutes later but his acrobatic effort was deflected just wide as was John Mountney’s snap shot from the edge of the area.
Pat’s were lucky to be trailing by just one goal but they did enjoy a brief 10-minute spell in which they were on top.
Treacy fired a long-range effort just wide of the post, while Christy Fagan and Billy Dennehy both went close to pulling Saints level.
Dundalk regained control, however, and Kenny will have been scratching his head as to how they didn’t go into the break more than one goal to the good.
Horgan, who was a constant threat all evening, rounded a couple of weak challenges before dragging a shot inches wide of the post.
Darren Dennehy was lucky that his header didn’t find the back of his own net, while, from the resulting corner, Kilduff found himself free inside the six-yard box but he headed the ball straight at a grateful Clarke.
Liam Buckley withdrew an ill Christy Fagan at half-time and his replacement Dinny Corcoran had a similarly tough time up against Gartland, who was excellent.
Pat’s enjoyed another dominant spell of possession early in the second half but they were again toothless in the final third and Dundalk made them pay with the killer blow just after the hour mark.
McMillan was on the pitch barely a minute and he immediately made an impact when he brilliantly finished to the far corner after Horgan had played him in.
The Pat’s defence continued to stand off the Dundalk midfield and Horgan got the goal his performance deserved when he beat Clarke from the edge of the area.
Gartland headed home Robbie Benson’s free-kick in injury time as the rout was completed and Dundalk climbed back to the summit.
St Pat’s Ath – Clarke; O’Brien, D Dennehy, McEleney, Bermingham; Treacy (Verdon 76), Cawley; Timlin, Kelly (Byrne 67), B Dennehy; Fagan (Corcoran h-t).
Dundalk – Rogers; Gannon, Gartland, Boyle, Massey; Shields, O’Donnell; Mountney, Horgan (Meenan 83), Finn (Benson 76); Kilduff (McMillan 62).
REF – D McKeon (Dublin)