Wednesday 21 November 2018

High fives all round for table-toppers Dundalk

Dundalk 5 St Patrick's Athletic 0

Pat Hoban celebrates after scoring Dundalk's second goal against St Patrick's Athletic at Oriel Park. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Pat Hoban celebrates after scoring Dundalk's second goal against St Patrick's Athletic at Oriel Park. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Aidan Fitzmaurice

They are back on top of the league table, and Dundalk certainly had the hallmarks of champions after they recovered from some first-half stutters to rip St Patrick's Athletic to shreds.

They needed to be patient in front of home fans in the crowd of 2,086 as, somehow, this game was scoreless at half-time despite 45 minutes of dominance from Stephen Kenny's side.

But some stunning forward play in the second half yielded goals from Pat Hoban (2), Ronan Murray, Michael Duffy and Jamie McGrath, the win putting Dundalk back on top of the table.

The only down side for Dundalk was an injury to forward Sam Byrne, who had to be replaced three minutes after he'd come off the bench in his first league appearance since the opening day of the season.

With one point gained from the previous two games, Dundalk had a statement to make here, and they looked like a team who had the bit between their teeth as they tore into Pat's from the off.

They could have been well in front by half-time if they'd been sharper in front of goal, or didn't have Barry Murphy to contend with in the away goal, but somehow Dundalk were unable to break down the Saints.

St Pat's Lee Desmond and Robbie Benson of Dundalk battle in the air. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
St Pat's Lee Desmond and Robbie Benson of Dundalk battle in the air. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Dan Cleary, Michael Duffy and Pat Hoban (above) were all close, but not close enough while James Doona was denied at the other end by Gary Rogers, Dundalk responding with efforts by Duffy and Hoban.

Within the space of six minutes early in the second half, Dundalk could relax. There was a touch of good fortune about both goals for Pat Hoban: the first, a minute after the restart, was a shot which took a deflection off Kevin Toner, though the effort may have gone in anyway.

On 52 minutes, Dundalk were 2-0 up, Hoban on hand to pick up the rebound after Duffy's shot was blocked in the box, the 51st goal of his Dundalk career. He was on course for a hat-trick but he unselfishly set up team-mate Ronan Murray for the third goal on 66 minutes, a lay-off in the box teeing up Murray.

There was more pain in store for the Saints who, despite more saves from keeper Murphy, conceded again.

Ronan Murray celebrates with teammates after extending Dundalk's lead. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Ronan Murray celebrates with teammates after extending Dundalk's lead. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Man of the match Duffy sprinted forward on 83 minutes and fired home the best goal of the night, a shot from distance, and two minutes later Duffy was the one with the assist, setting up sub Jamie McGrath to finish off a brilliant team move.

Dundalk - Rogers; Hoare, Gartland, Cleary, Jarvis; Benson (Shields 80), O'Donnell; Mountney, Murray, Duffy; Hoban (Byrne 73, McGrath 76).

St Pat's Athletic - Murphy; Madden, Toner, Desmond, Bermingham; Lennon, Kelly (Leahy 73); Doona, Markey, Clarke; Keegan (T Byrne 69).

Ref - P McLaughlin

Michael Duffy scores Dundalk's fourth of the night. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Michael Duffy scores Dundalk's fourth of the night. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Jamie McGrath rounds off a 5-0 victory for Dundalk. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Jamie McGrath rounds off a 5-0 victory for Dundalk. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Irish Independent

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