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Kenny praises Dundalk squad strength after Stewart seals Bit O'Red rout

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A draw leaves Bournemouth 11th in the Premier League and level on 34 points with 10th-placed Southampton who have two games in hand. Photo: Stock photo

A draw leaves Bournemouth 11th in the Premier League and level on 34 points with 10th-placed Southampton who have two games in hand. Photo: Stock photo

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A draw leaves Bournemouth 11th in the Premier League and level on 34 points with 10th-placed Southampton who have two games in hand. Photo: Stock photo

There is already a familiar look to the Premier Division table as reigning champions Dundalk took top spot at the weekend.

Goals from Patrick McEleney, Michael Duffy, Ciaran Kilduff and Thomas Stewart secured a commanding win at struggling Sligo Rovers.

It's a perfect start to the season for Stephen Kenny's side, and the manager said: "We are absolutely thrilled with the performance after coming down here without some cornerstones of our team in the likes of Gary Rogers, Dane Massey, Stephen O'Donnell, Chris Shields and David McMillan.

"We had some question marks about the team, but to win as convincingly as we did showed that the players that came in were of high quality."

The outstanding McEleney opened the scoring on 12 minutes curling a free-kick past helpless debutant keeper Shaun Patton.

The second came from one of Kenny's newcomers in Duffy, who netted from close range after good work from McEleney.

Claimed

Kilduff got his second of the season to make it 3-0 on 76 minutes, before substitute Thomas Stewart claimed the fourth immediately after his introduction.

Kenny said: "Probably all of the players that we would have liked to score got on the scoresheet. Patrick McEleney getting his first goal of the season. Michael Duffy getting his first goal for the club. Thomas Stewart getting his first goal for the club, and Ciaran Kilduff getting among the goals again.

"Add in the clean sheet, which was very important for us as well."

The home side have now conceded nine goals in two games, and a bad night was made worse by the sending-off of a striker Jonah Ayunga for two bookable offences.

Manager Dave Robertson said: "It was very disappointing to concede from the free-kick early on, because we had started well.

"We stuck to our guns in the second half, but the sending-off changed the game. I thought it was a little bit of a soft sending-off. I thought the first booking was just a competitive challenge and the second one was 50-50.

"I think the referee may have been tricked into it a little bit by the dramatics of the player who has gone down, but we have to deal with that."

Sligo Rovers - Patton, Adebayo-Rowling, Leahy, Callan-McFadden, Donelon, Roddan, Russell, Kearns (Sadlier 62), Martin, Cretaro (Stevens 79), Ayunga.

Dundalk - Sava, Gannon, Gartland, Barrett, Vemmelund, Clifford, Benson, Mountney, McEleney, Duffy, Kilduff.

Ref - B Connolly

Irish Independent