'Inspirational' McEleney gets Dundalk back on track against St Pat's
The inspirational Patrick McEleney helped Dundalk to get back on the winning trail at Oriel Park and pile further pressure on St Patrick's Athletic.
Stephen Kenny's side bounced back from Monday's defeat in Derry to enjoy a comfortable victory courtesy of goals on either side of half-time.
And McEleney was the catalyst with the gifted playmaker setting up the first for Ciaran Kilduff before grabbing a brace after the restart that showcased his dribbling skills with both goals finished with the swagger of a player that is going places.
This was a confidence booster for the champions ahead of next Saturday's showdown with table topping Cork at Turner's Cross.
St Pat's have taken just a point from their opening five games and are facing up to a difficult season with the fact that three teams go down putting extra focus on a disappointing beginning to their campaign.
Liam Buckley will be feeling the heat. His team actually competed reasonably well in the first half and initially posed a couple of problems with their 3-5-2 system. Gavin Peers tested the recalled Gary Rogers with a header from a free kick.
However, Dundalk began to dominate and find gaps despite the Saints' best attempts to stifle McEleney. Goalie Conor O'Malley was at full stretch to keep out long range efforts from the Derryman and John Mountney.
But he was beaten a minute before the half-time cuppa when McEleney roamed to the left side and crossed into the area where Kilduff managed to turn his body and successfully steer the ball goalwards.
Kenny's charges resumed with the determination to put the game to bed and they raised the tempo to expose a weakness in the spine of the Saints' team. McEleney made it two with a dazzling run where he was simply too quick and too smart for his pursuers with a delicate chip on the move over O'Malley applying the icing on the cake.
The 24-year-old had removed suspense from the outcome by the 53rd minute. This time Kilduff delivered the assist, capitalising on Saints' indecision and feeding McEleney who teased Rory Feely before stabbing a right footer beyond the visiting netminder.
At that point, it looked as though Dundalk might run up a number but the Saints switched to a back four and managed to avoid the concession of a fourth. Their search for pride almost yielded a consolation goal, but Buckley has serious issues to address ahead of next weekend's Dublin derby with Shamrock Rovers.
Dundalk: Rogers, Gannon, Barrett, Gartland, Massey; Benson, Clifford (Shields 69); Mountney (McGrath 79), McEleney; Duffy; Kilduff (McMillan 76)
St Patrick's Athletic: O'Malley; Feely (K Byrne 56), Peers, Dennehy, Bermingham; Barker, Desmond, A O'Hanlon, Lunney, Bermingham; J O'Hanlon (C Byrne 56), Fagan
Referee: G Kelly (Cork)