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Dundalk wrap up league success

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CHAMPIONS-ELECT: Dundalk players celebrate after their victory over Derry City at Oriel Park last night Pic: Sportsfile.

CHAMPIONS-ELECT: Dundalk players celebrate after their victory over Derry City at Oriel Park last night Pic: Sportsfile.

CHAMPIONS-ELECT: Dundalk players celebrate after their victory over Derry City at Oriel Park last night Pic: Sportsfile.

It's all over bar the maths. The full-time reaction at Oriel Park made that point.

Stephen Kenny's Dundalk are champions for the fourth time in five seasons, after enduring a late scare.

Liam Buckley's departure from St Patrick's Athletic earlier in the day made Kenny the longest serving Premier Division manager.

And it's hard to see Dundalk's grip on the crown being loosened while he remains in charge.

The Lilywhites may not be officially declared as title winners until the visit of St Patrick's Athletic on Friday week, but a twelve point lead with four games to go - and a 26 goal advantage in the differential - is a lead that justifies the supporters' celebrations.

They came back to base on a high after Friday's win at the home of defending champions Cork City; a result that removed any lingering suspense from the run-in. And Kenny was even able to rest some legs with this Friday's FAI Cup semi final against UCD in mind. Winning the double is the priority.

They started a bit sluggishly but Derry's defence are notoriously generous.

The unmarked Daniel Cleary wriggled free in the area to head home the opener and ex-Derry pair Michael Duffy and Patrick McEleney linked up for the latter to curl home the second.

Patrick Hoban added a third from distance before the break, with his 25th goal of the season levelling the record Premier Division tally since the two tier system was introduced in 1985.

He really should have broken the record after the interval but an offside flag and a fine Ger Doherty save denied the Galwegian.

A Dean Jarvis own goal before sub Ben Fisk pulled another one back with two minutes remaining briefly deflated the party mood at Oriel.

However, the silence was temporary.

Derry were reduced to 10 men in added time when Kevin Hattie was dismissed.


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