Soccer, Jim Malone Cup: Dundalk 2 Drogheda Utd 0
Dundalk made it five in-a-row in the Malone Cup as second half goals from Jordan Flores and Georgie Kelly saw off neighbours Drogheda Utd in the annual pre-season game between the pair at Oriel Park on Thursday night.
The 20th year of the competition in memory of former Dundalk FC chairman Jim Malone, this was just the Lilywhites' seventh success in the competition but they have now won it at the start of each decade: 2000, 2010 and 2020.
The game proved another useful workout for Vinny Perth's side ahead of their SSE Airtricity League opener at home to Derry City on February 14th, as well as this Sunday's President's Cup clash with Shamrock Rovers at Oriel.
Once again the Dundalk head coach trialled a three at the back system from the off but it was when the home side switched to their more traditional formation for the second half that they looked the most threatening.
That said, Dundalk had their chances to be ahead at the break and would undoubtedly have done so but for the performance of Drogheda substitute goalkeeper David Odumosu. The former O Fiaich College student was thrown into the game inside the opening 10 minutes after another former Lilywhite goalkeeper, Ross Treacy, had his evening ended prematurely after colliding with the post when making a save.
Odumosu, like Treacy, only departed Oriel Park just before Christmas and he looked like a man determined to prove to his former side that they had got their decision wrong to let him go.
He was only on the field of play less than two minutes when he made a fine stop to deny Darragh Leahy after Sean Gannon's initial effort had been blocked by Derek Prendergast.
He then followed up with an even better stop to keep out Patrick Hoban's side-footed effort after he had been picked out by Sean Murray's free kick on 21 minutes.
Dane Massey then had two golden chances to open the scoring for Dundalk on 32 and 39 minutes respectively after being found unmarked by Murray corners. However, on both occasions he headed well over.
Odumosu then frustrated Dundalk again two minutes before the break when he saved at close range from Greg Sloggett.
The home side made five changes at the break and it was two of these who combined to finally make the breakthrough on 48 minutes. Daniel Kelly's cross from the right was scrappy but Flores managed to get on the end of it to head down into the ground with the ball looping above the despairing dive of Odomuso to the top left hand corner.
Dundalk almost grabbed a second two minutes later when Daniel Kelly was set free but Odumosu was quick off his line to deny him.
Flores would pull another effort just wide moments later before Daniel Kelly had a header deflect just wide for a corner on 65 minutes.
Odumosu would again thwart his old side four minutes later when he tipped over from Sean Gannon after a mazy run up the right by the full back.
Having weathered the storm, Drogheda - who up until that point had posed little attacking threat - began pushing hard for an equaliser. They almost found it too on 77 minutes. After Sean Brennan's free had struck the wall, the ball broke to Stephen Meaney whose follow up was saved by Gabriel Sava before spinning up and onto the roof of the net.
The resultant corner from Brennan was cleared back as far as him. He met the return ball sweetly on the half volley to get a shot away but Sava did well to hold it.
Dundalk then put the game to bed on 80 minutes with a second. Good work up by the right by Daniel Kelly saw him pull back for his namesake Georgie to apply a close range finish to make it 2-0.
The Malone Cup was staying in Oriel Park for another year at least. A good workout for both sides ahead of bigger challenges that lie ahead.
Dundalk: McCarey (Sava HT); Gannon, Gartland (Hoare HT), Cleary (Quinn 83), Massey, Leahy (D Kelly HT); Shields (Dogan 83); Murray (Flores HT), Sloggett (Lotefa 74), Duffy (Hanratty 82); Hoban (G Kelly HT).
Drogheda: Treacy (Odumosu 9), Brown, Prendergast (Tuite 71), Douglas, Kane (O'Shea 71); Hyland (Cabraley 78), O'Farrell; Wixted (Adeyemo 55), Doyle (Brennan 63), Bermingham (Meaney 55); Lyons (Clarke 74). Subs not used: Hughes, Heaney, McCarthy.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin (Monaghan).