Tuesday 21 November 2017

Saint Patrick

Patrick McEleney celebrates scoring the only goal against Limerick on Friday night
Patrick McEleney celebrates scoring the only goal against Limerick on Friday night

James Rogers at Oriel Park

It was perhaps fitting that before Dundalk's clash with Limerick on Friday night that the club unveiled posters promoting their next home match with St Patrick's Athletic with man of the hour Patrick McEleney mocked up as St Patrick himself.

Dundalk 1 Limerick 0

Posters such as that have a habit of tempting fate but in McEleney's case he continues to thrive on the added responsibility thrust upon his shoulders this year with a match winning display and third man of the match performance in-a-row.

McEleney might not have done anything as drastic as rid snakes from Oriel Park on Friday night but a 32nd minute wonder goal was enough to send Martin Russell's visitors packing and make it three wins from three for the champions.

Sainthood for the Derry man might not be on the cards but Dundalk's new poster boy has certainly brought himself a wealth of new admirers after upping the ante over the close season.

With the likes of Daryl Horgan, Andy Boyle and Ronan Finn departing, Stephen Kenny challenged the 24-year-old to step things up in what is his second season at the club.

It is a sign of how frustrating his debut campaign was that Friday night was just his 20th league start for the Lilywhites since joining from Derry City. The fact he scored his fifth league goal on the night was testament of just how effective McEleney can be, with the nature of it evidence of how much he has come on in following some hard graft to raise his game to the next level.

McEleney has worked hard over the winter months to prepare himself for this season, with his supposedly weaker left foot one of his points of focus.

Those tedious hours on the training ground paid off on Friday night, however, as McEleney lit up Oriel Park with a goal that was worthy of winning any game.

There appeared little on when the 24-year-old picked the ball up to the right of goal on 32 minutes but after cutting inside he unleashed a stunning left foot shot that curled over the despairing Freddy Hall to the top right hand corner for his second goal in as many matches.

Afterwards Kenny praised the 'genius' that decided a tight affair.

'I was just glad to get the victory,' admitted the manager.

'It was just one moment of real genius really to win it.

'It was a goal worthy of winning any game, just a really special goal. It was great to see it. I think people who paid in tonight witnessed a special moment. It will live long in the memory that goal.

'I thought we were very dangerous and overall deserved the win,' he said.

'We had some chances to go two up but there wasn't much in the game. We only deserved to win narrowly.

'I think the result was about right overall but Limerick can take a lot of credit for how they played.'

On McEleney, Kenny said: 'It was just a brilliant goal for Patrick to win it.

'He's just a joy to watch. He's worth the admission money and people should just come and watch him. It's great to see a player like that.

'It's poetry in motion really. It's a thing of great beauty when he is playing to his full potential.'

The in-form star was at the heart of things throughout as Dundalk came flying out of the traps with a number of early chances.

Firstly Robbie Benson - making his 50th competitive appearance for the club - headed just wide from a McEleney free kick after just 90 seconds.

Jamie McGrath then fired into the side netting before Brian Gartland flashed a header just wide.

Limerick eventually grew into the game and they had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock on 12 minutes when Shaun Kelly's sweeping ball in from the right was just about taken off the head of Rodrigo Tosi by Paddy Barrett.

Dundalk had to ride their luck from Stephen Kenny's resulting corner, however, which Gabriel Sava spilled only to redeem himself with a fine follow-up save to deny Paul O'Conor.

The home side soon recovered their composure and a super ball out of defence by Barrett on 21 minutes released McEleney only for the Derry man's shot to come off Robbie Williams for a corner.

Benson and Michael Duffy would go close afterwards before the stunning breakthrough on 32 minutes from McEleney.

Dundalk continued to apply the pressure after taking the lead with Ciaran Kilduff going close on a couple of occasions either side of another McEleney attempt that went just wide of the post.

Just after the hour mark Benson also went close again when he drove from midfield only to see his left foot strike flash inches the wrong side of the post.

Dundalk's failure to kill the game off meant Limerick were in it right until the end with the unmarked Tosi passing up a good opening on 69 minutes when he headed straight at Sava from Lee J Lynch's cross.

Limerick continued to press late on with goalkeeper Freddy Hall heading just wide with the last kick of the game on 95 minutes as Dundalkjust about held out for the win.

It wasn't always pretty but three from three was all that anyone could ask for.

The Argus

Promoted Links

Promoted Links