Champions Dundalk lift trophy after facile win over St Pats
Dundalk 4 St Patrick's Athletic 0
This was a night of celebration for Dundalk, but a return to winning ways was the main priority for Vinny Perth ahead of the trophy list.
His side achieved that comfortably enough, with St Patrick’s Athletic boss Stephen O’Donnell enduring a frustrating return to his old stomping ground.
Any hope of European qualification for the Saints was ended by news that Derry were well in control against Finn Harps.
O’Donnell’s side were competitive in the first half here, yet they were floored by the concession of a routine set-piece, with Dane Massey’s header getting Dundalk back in the groove.
Back-to-back defeats had checked the Lilywhites’ ambitions of setting new points records, but their unbeaten record at home was safe from that juncture.
Daniel Kelly added a second before the interval, following a clever through ball from Robbie Benson.
After that, it was a case of seeing out the remaining 45 and avoiding injuries ahead of Sunday week’s FAI Cup decider with Shamrock Rovers and an opportunity for a historic treble.
Patrick Hoban did have something to play for after the restart, with his long-term lead in the golden boot race wiped out by Junior’s hat-trick exploits for Derry.
The Dundalk striker ambitiously tried to claim a third goal following a shot that struck the post before bouncing back off Brendan Clarke and seemingly crossing the line, although it was disputed by the Saints.
Clarke was sore enough already after being on the receiving end of a hefty first-half challenge from Hoban that earned him a booking and Perth eventually decided to withdraw his number nine as a precaution.
His understudy Georgie Kelly’s emphatic header put the icing on the cake.
Dundalk – Rogers, Gannon, Gartland, Cleary, Massey; Shields, Benson (Flores 67); Mountney (G Kelly 69), McGrath, D Kelly; Hoban (Murray 77)
St Patrick’s Athletic – B Clarke, D Clarke, Webster, Desmond, Bermingham; Clifford (McAuley 77); Markey (Hale 67), Forrester, Coleman (Lennon 45), Doona; Walker
Ref – G Kelly (Cork)