Drogheda Independent

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Doughty Drogs no pushovers in derby clash

Soccer, Jim Malone Cup: Dundalk 2 Drogheda Utd 0

The latest Louth derby will go down in the record books as a fifth consecutive Jim Malone Cup success for Dundalk, but Drogheda United and their great rivals both have their sights set on different silverware in 2020.

For the Lilywhites the defence of their Premier crown is priority number one, while Drogheda are targeting the First Division title this year as they bid to return to the top flight.

With the league kick-off just around the corner, the two clubs will have been more than happy with this runout, although from Tim Clancy's perspective there will be worries about now having his two most experienced keepers on the treatment table.

He could also have done without the withdrawal from the line-up of Mark Hughes just before kick-off at Oriel Park last Thursday night.

Still, it was an experienced-looking XI, probably very close to the one which will start the first competitive game in a little over a fortnight's time.

Who will start in goal is anyone's guess, though, after the luckless Ross Treacy injured himself just seven minutes into the game after colliding with the post in dealing with an awkwardly-placed cross by Darragh Leahy. However, his 18-year-old replacement David Odumosu went on to produce a man-of-the-match performance against his former club.

He made a number of excellent saves in a game that was dominated by Dundalk, although Drogheda did very well to keep their shape and restrict clear-cut openings.

In that regard it was reassuring to have two vastly experienced centre-backs at the heart of the defence in Derek Prendergast and Hugh Douglas. With close on 500 league games between them under their belts, that knowledge will be a major asset as the season unfolds and Jack Tuite is also a good option in that position.

The best opportunity of an early goal fell to the Lilywhites as Patrick Hoban swept a great diagonal ball out to Sean Gannon whose shot was blocked by the out-stretched leg of Conor Kane, with Leahy's powerful follow-up effort brilliantly kept out by Odumosu.

An over-zealous tackle by James Brown on Dane Massey gave Dundalk a free kick in a dangerous area on 21 minutes and the ball was whipped in towards Hoban whose deft flick produced another fine block by Odumosu, this time with his legs.

Drogheda's only shot on or off target in the first half came came when Chris Lyons was bundled over by Massey 25 yards from goal, and Adam Wixted curled the resulting free kick into Dundalk's defensive wall.

Massey twice had great chances to put the home side ahead on 31 and 38 minutes, on both occasions sending free headers over the bar from pinpoint Sean Murray corner kicks.

Odumosu was then called upon again, showing superb reactions to block a Greg Sloggett effort from point-blank range, and the half-time whistle came at a good time for Drogheda as they were starting to look a bit ragged in defence.

Nevertheless, they found themselves a goal down within three minutes of the restart. A good cross from Brown led to a corner kick for Drogheda, but from there Dundalk cleared their lines and a quickly taken throw suddenly left the visitors stretched, with Jordan Flores on hand to loft the ball over the out-stretched arms of Odumosu from Gannon's cross.

Flores dragged another effort just wide from a similar position shortly after, and a great last-ditch tackle from Douglas then denied Daniel Kelly an almost certain goal.

A brilliant first touch by Gannon as he latched onto a long ball by Sean Hoare took him in behind the Drogheda defence and the wing back advanced straight into the penalty area before having his shot superbly tipped over the bar by Odumosu.

Even with just a single-goal advantage Dundalk were looking comfortable, but that changed in the 77th minute when a long-range Sean Brennan free kick bounced off the wall towards fellow sub Stephen Meaney whose powerful shot was tipped onto the roof of the net by former Drog Gabriel Sava.

The resulting corner was cleared straight back to Brennan who arrowed a well-struck volley towards goal and once more Sava did well, clutching the ball low to his right in the crowded six-yard area.

But just when hopes were rising of a Drogheda equaliser to force a deciding penalty shootout, Dundalk put the game out of reach in the 80th minute. The goal was made by the trickery of Daniel Kelly who teased his way into the box from the right flank and timed his pass to perfection as namesake Georgie popped up on his left shoulder to slot past Odumosu.

Only then did Dundalk boss Vinny Perth release his Under-19s from the bench and the game limped to its inevitable conclusion after that, with captain-for-the-night Massey collecting the Jim Malone Cup.

From a Drogheda point of view, there was plenty to like about the performance and the energy of Richie O'Farrell at the heart of the midfield for the full 90 minutes was mightily impressive considering he also played half of the Bohemians match just 48 hours earlier.

The last-minute withdrawal of Hughes didn't help Drogheda's cause as it meant Mark Doyle played the unfamiliar role of a number 10 to accommodate Brandon Bermingham on the left flank.

Lyons ran his heart out as usual in attack and if anything tried too hard to open up the Dundalk defence on his own rather than bringing teammates into play.

But once again the quality of the opposition has to be factored into account. A cutting edge is something Drogheda had in abundance last season and once the league season gets under way the goals will come.

DUNDALK: Aaron McCarey (Gabriel Sava 46); Daniel Cleary (Taner Dogan 82), Brian Gartland, Dane Massey; Sean Gannon, Chris Shields (Andrew Quinn 83), Greg Sloggett (Lido Lotefa 74), Darragh Leahy (Daniel Kelly 46); Michael Duffy (Mark Hanratty 82), Sean Murray (Jordan Flores 46); Patrick Hoban (Georgie Kelly 46).

DROGHEDA UNITED: Ross Treacy (David Odumosu 8); James Brown, Hugh Douglas, Derek Prendergast (Jack Tuite 71), Conor Kane (Ryan O'Shea 71); Adam Wixted (Stephen Meaney 55), Richie O'Farrell, Jake Hyland (Frank Cabraley 78), Brandon Bermingham (Jordan Adeyemo 55); Mark Doyle (Sean Brennan 63); Chris Lyons (James Clarke 74). Subs not used: Luke Heeney, Jack McCarthy.

Booked: Hyland, O'Farrell, Douglas

Referee: Paul McLaughlin (Monaghan)

Drogheda Independent