Tuesday 17 July 2018

Devastating Dundalk make cup statement

Dundalk 4 Derry City 0

Dundalk’s Patrick McEleney attempts to hold off Derry’s Nathan Boyle. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Dundalk’s Patrick McEleney attempts to hold off Derry’s Nathan Boyle. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Dundalk's focus for the rest of this season is to be on arriving in Ballsbridge on the first Sunday in November.

Stephen Kenny has laid that out in simple terms. They scaled the substantial first hurdle in impressive fashion.

Patrick McEleney of Dundalk in action against Nathan Boyle of Derry City. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Patrick McEleney of Dundalk in action against Nathan Boyle of Derry City. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

"It doesn't mean anything, bar you are in the next round, that's all it means," said the Dundalk manager afterwards. "But it keeps the dream alive of getting to the national stadium."

This was an important statement, though, because Dundalk came in to this match knowing that the rest of their season effectively hinged on it. They will not be resting bodies in the FAI Cup this year.

Sure, they have an EA Sports Cup final with Shamrock Rovers to look forward to. And they still have work to do to make sure of second place in the league - Derry could close the gap to four if they win when the sides meet in the league next Sunday.

But this performance showed that the Candystripes have a road to travel to be able to match Kenny's charges when they are in full flow.

John Mountney of Dundalk in action against Darren Cole of Derry City. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
John Mountney of Dundalk in action against Darren Cole of Derry City. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

Taste

And while the disappointment of Cork running away with the league and the pain of a Champions League exit to Rosenborg has given Dundalk a rare taste of disappointment under this management, this game showed that this group retain the desire to keep going and salvage what they can from the campaign.

It helped that they were given a lift earlier in the week with the news that Kenny had agreed a new contract that will keep him at the club until 2020.

"That was an important decision in my life," said Kenny. "We've had a lot of enjoyable nights here, but we're far from perfect. I think we want to get better and have the determination to try and improve again."

This was a good start and it meant he was given an even warmer reception than usual when he emerged from the tunnel before kick-off. The players were energised, too, as they seized the initiative inside a minute.

Robbie Benson of Dundalk in action against Aaron McEneff of Derry City. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Robbie Benson of Dundalk in action against Aaron McEneff of Derry City. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

Patrick McEleney has struggled against his hometown club this season, but he found space to release marauding full-back Sean Gannon, whose precise cross was slotted home by John Mountney for his first of the season.

Derry's plans were in tatters. Kenny Shiels felt that Ronan Curtis - who was in Sweden on Friday to discuss a move to Ostersunds that fell through - switched off in the build-up.

Things didn't get much better for Shiels in the aftermath, as Dundalk consistently found space between their defence and midfield, with runners from deep causing plenty of problems.

Another ex-Derry man, Michael Duffy, gave makeshift right-full Lukas Schubert a torrid time, with Conor McDermott badly missed.

John Mountney, left of Dundalk celebrates after scoring his side's first goal with teammates Sean Gannon and Michael Duffy. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
John Mountney, left of Dundalk celebrates after scoring his side's first goal with teammates Sean Gannon and Michael Duffy. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

Duffy struggled in the shooting department, but the fact he was able to take aim on five occasions before the break offers insight into the run of play. Still, Derry have quality in their ranks so the slender margin was dangerous.

That was illustrated before the break when Aaron McEneff found the room to curl a shot against the crossbar, with Schubert's follow-up deflected wide.

"You could say we were unlucky to go in 1-0 down," Shiels insisted.

Dundalk resumed with a purpose to get the job done and they quickly doubled their advantage from the penalty spot when ref Neil Doyle penalised Dean Jarvis for a tug on the shirt of David McMillan. The Lilywhites' top scorer dusted himself down to emphatically convert. Shiels had no complaints about the decision, even if he protested at several others.

That silenced the substantial travelling support and Shiels pushed Schubert further forward in a reshuffle. He was quickly denied by a goal-saving challenge from Niclas Vemmelund, with the former Candystripes man a thorn in the side of the visitors.

Entertaining

The centre-half added insult to injury by embarking on a series of mazy runs that made him look more like Daryl Horgan's replacement as opposed to Andy Boyle. It was in keeping with an entertaining game.

Derry were comprehensively beaten, yet they could still travel home with regrets over key moments that could have shifted the momentum. A brilliant goal-line clearance from Dane Massey to deny Barry McNamee delivered another example.

But that came after Robbie Benson had squandered an open goal, with Derry's adventure always leaving them exposed to trouble.

Dundalk were given plenty of opportunities, but the third goal came from distance when McNamee was caught in possession and Mountney punished him with a superb right-footer from 25 yards.

"He's been threatening to do it and it was just a brilliant strike, unstoppable," said Kenny, who is surprised the Mayoman doesn't score more. "We measure the velocity and he's got the hardest shot at the club."

That wasn't the end of the action, with Kenny's subs influential and yet another ex-Derry player coming to the fore, with Thomas Stewart teeing up Duffy for the goal his efforts deserved.

"They were very hungry," conceded Shiels. "And they showed more determination than us. We'll just have to take it on the chin."

This Dundalk group still have a few more punches left in them.

Dundalk: Rogers, Gannon, Gartland, Vemmelund, Massey; O'Donnell (McGrath 85), Benson; Mountney, McEleney (Shields 79), Duffy; McMillan (Stewart 80)

Derry City: Doherty, Schubert, Cole, Barry, Jarvis; Low, McEneff; Curtis (Doherty 70), McNamee, Boyle (Dolny 58); Patterson

ref - N Doyle (Dublin)

 

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