Sunday 26 January 2020

David McMillan magic keeps Dundalk in the title race

Dundalk 3 Bohemians 2

Andy Boyle, Dundalk, centre, celebrates with team-mates Richie Towell, left, and Kurtis Byrne after scoring his side's first goal of the night. SSE Airtricity League Premier Division, Dundalk v Bohemians, Oriel Park, Dundalk, Co. Louth. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
Andy Boyle, Dundalk, centre, celebrates with team-mates Richie Towell, left, and Kurtis Byrne after scoring his side's first goal of the night. SSE Airtricity League Premier Division, Dundalk v Bohemians, Oriel Park, Dundalk, Co. Louth. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
Karl Moore tugs on the shirt of Dundalk's Donal McDermott. SSE Airtricity League Premier Division, Dundalk v Bohemians, Oriel Park, Dundalk, Co. Louth. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
Chris Shields, Dundalk, goes up against Dinny Corcoran, Bohemians. SSE Airtricity League Premier Division, Dundalk v Bohemians, Oriel Park, Dundalk, Co. Louth. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
Bohemians' Roberto Lopes tackles Daryl Horgan, Dundalk. SSE Airtricity League Premier Division, Dundalk v Bohemians, Oriel Park, Dundalk, Co. Louth. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

If Dundalk go on to win the league title, this epic encounter will figure prominently in the showreel.

Stephen Kenny's side continue to pass every test of character put in front of them and it was supersub David McMillan that emerged as the hero from this thriller.

The striker was summoned at half-time with the leaders trailing and struck twice to claim the spoils and extend Dundalk's unbeaten league run to 16 matches.

More significantly, Cork's draw in Athlone means they stretch their advantage at the summit to six points with seven games to go.

The giddiness in these parts is thinly disguised. Another hard-fought success showcased the attributes which have brought them to this position.

Devastating effectiveness from set-pieces has carried them through rough patches and that again proved the case here in the 21st minute.

Darren Meenan's delivery was flicked across the area by Pat Hoban into the path of Andy Boyle, who powered the ball past Dean Delany.

Bohs, who had kept the title chasers at arm's length until that juncture, reacted admirably to the setback.

They levelled before the half-hour mark with a goal that will definitely pop up in the end-of-season compilations as winger Karl Moore gained possession on the right flank, cut inside onto his left foot and unleashed a 25-yarder that flew into the top corner with Peter Cherrie rooted to the spot.

After they survived another scare from a corner when Delany kept out Brian Gartland, the visitors retained their earlier discipline, with Dundalk struggling to really get in behind the green shirts.

Still, the Louth men couldn't have envisaged conceding another wonder strike before the interval but that's what happened when Bohs broke with purpose and Dinny Corcoran swivelled outside the area to deliver a rocket that flew past Cherrie in an almost identical manner to Moore's strike.

It left the shocked natives plenty to ponder during the break and Kenny acted immediately by hooking the ineffective Kurtis Byrne and sending in McMillan to support Hoban.

The inspired call almost had an instant impact when the latter's cross was flashed narrowly wide by Hoban.

SKILFULLY

Nine minutes later the sub did make his presence pay by stepping up to skilfully glance a Daryl Horgan cross past the despairing dive of Delany and restore parity.

Dundalk were unable to really build on it initially, though, as the patched up Gypsies dug in with the impressive midfield pair Craig Walsh and Eoin Wearen demonstrating their immense potential.

Kenny utilised his other changes by bringing in Donal McDermott and Ruaidhri Higgins in search of a winner and the latter's class in possession made a difference in the grandstand finish.

Yet it was a route one approach that picked the lock with 13 minutes to go in a passage started by brilliant defensive cover by Horgan. What followed was a hopeful punt into the area that Delany failed to collect under pressure from Hoban, with the predatory McMillan on hand to dispatch the loose ball and prompt wild scenes of celebration.

Dundalk - Cherrie, Gannon, Boyle, Gartland, Massey; Shields (Higgins 73), Towell; Meenan (McDermott 67), Byrne (McMillan 45), Horgan; Hoban

Bohemians - Delany, Pender, Lopes, Price, Memery (Evans 81); Devaney, Walsh, Wearen, Moore; Corcoran, Byrne.

REF - D Tomney (Dublin)

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