Finn's spot on as Dundalk see off Bit O'Red
Dundalk 1 0 Sligo Rovers
Ronan Finn’s 44th minute penalty was enough to give Dundalk a hard fought 1-0 win against battling Sligo Rovers at Oriel Park.
Finn’s spot kick, his fifth of the season, propels the champions three points clear of Derry City and St Patrick’s Athletic at the top of the SSE Airtricity league table.
The Lilywhites endured a frustrating first half as Dave Robertson’s Sligo side kept their shape well and gave very little away.
As a result, Dundalk were limited to nothing more than half chances with Ciaran Kilduff nipping in ahead of the advancing Micheal Schlingermann to toe poke Brian Gartland’s pass off target in the 14th minute.
Kilduff, who started up front in tandem with David McMillan, then headed a delicious cross from Daryl Horgan against the post. The assistant’s raised flag would have saw the goal ruled out in any event.
The striker was involved again in the best move of the half in the 25th minute when he was picked out by Sean Gannon on the edge of the 18-yard box. Kilduff’s chest control invited McMillan to strike but his strike partner blazed the effort over the top.
The visitors looked happy to contain Dundalk and their only real attempt came on the quarter of an hour mark when Kieran Sadlier’s 25-yard free-kick saw Gary Rogers scramble to his right to ensure the effort went wide of the post.
It looked like the Bit O’Red’s discipline would get them into the dressing room all square at the break but that all changed on the stroke of half time referee Ben Connolly adjudged Mick Leahy to have hauled Gartland to the deck from a Meenan corner and Finn made no mistake from 12-yards.
The Bit O’Red emerged early for the start of the second half and Sadlier tested Rogers with a snapshot before Liam Martin picked Jimmy Keoghane out from the left, the former Woking man diverting his attempt just wide of the upright.
Dundalk struggled to get into first gear and it took until the 71st minute for them to really trouble the Sligo goal again, Daryl Horgan curling a wicked free just over the top.
They saw it out, however, and sit clear at the top despite the fact that they have yet to really click into gear.
DUNDALK: Rogers; Gannon, Gartland, Boyle, Massey; Meenan (Mountney 75), Finn, O’Donnell, Horgan; Kilduff (Shields 58), McMillan.
SLIGO ROVERS: Schlingermann; Adebayo-Rowling, Leahy, Boylan, Donelon; Roddan, Russell (Roberts 68); Keohane, Sadlier, Martin; Cretaro (Gordon 87).
REF: Ben Connolly.