Quigley magic sends Lilies marching on
Irish U-21 winger Kearns, who completed a transfer to Championship outfit Peterborough earlier in the day, has been one of Ian Foster's most prominent attackers this season but his departure may just have opened the door for another tricky customer to shine.
Keith Ward was heavily involved in Dundalk's victory over their Louth rivals, scoring the first goal and contributing brilliantly in general play.
In this sort of form, Kearns' absence may not be the blow to Dundalk that some people are expecting.
While Ward buzzed impressively, star status -- for the umpteenth time this season -- went to Mark Quigley.
The Dundalk centre-forward took his tally to 19 for the campaign with another goal-of-the-season contender and but for Drogheda goalkeeper Robert Duggan, he would have added another couple for good measure.
Ward drew first blood for the Lilywhites in the 25th minute when he took possession before looping a wonderful drive over Duggan from distance, but if the former UCD man thought he was taking the plaudits for goal of the game, Quigley had other ideas.
Dundalk's top scorer brought the house down in the 29th minute with the second. Ross Gaynor's corner was only half-cleared to the edge of the box and Quigley showed incredible vision and guile to drop an inch-perfect lob over a crowd of bodies into the net.
Chances continued to fall for the home side in the second half. Jason Byrne rattled the woodwork with a curling effort and Duggan denied Quigley and substitute Marc Griffin.
Drogheda threw men forward in a bid to salvage something from the game and after Gavin Brennan went close on a couple of occasions, Jordan White pulled one back in stoppage-time. But it was too late to deny Dundalk.
DUNDALK -- Cherrie; Madden, Hawkins, McHugh, N Murphy; Ward, Bolger, Bennett, Gaynor (Griffin 60); Byrne (Breen 83), Quigley.
DROGHEDA UNITED -- Duggan; Gaul, McNally, Rogers, Hand; O'Brien, Lynch, Gannon, Brennan; Mulvenna, Corcoran (White 60).
REF -- D Hancock (Dublin).