Sunday 18 November 2018

Kenny's confident champions show no mercy to beleaguered Rovers

Dundalk 5 0 Sligo Rovers

John Mountney is congratulated by Patrick Hoban after scoring the first goal. Photo: Sportsfile
John Mountney is congratulated by Patrick Hoban after scoring the first goal. Photo: Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Dundalk were given a guard of honour by their guests before the final home match of a league-winning season.

The Sligo Rovers players went on to spend most of the 90 minutes that followed watching Stephen Kenny's charges revel in the latest leg of their victory tour.

Trophy night brought an expectant crowd to Oriel Park and they weren't disappointed as the champions broke the all-time points record in a facile success where they turned on the style.

Kenny's name has featured in the debate around the flagging Irish international side and his programme notes did make what appeared to be quite a pointed reference to debates around style of play.

"It is important to dispel the current train of thought that it's in the DNA of Irish players to play a more direct style of play, that somehow being Irish that you were inherently born with a skill deficit," he wrote. "We have a group where creative players trust their talent and strive to express themselves in pursuit of fulfilling that potential as individuals and as a team."

There have been questions about the depth of the field that the champions have faced this year, and Rovers were brushed aside.

Mikey Drennan of Sligo Rovers in action against Chris Shields of Dundalk. Photo: Sportsfile
Mikey Drennan of Sligo Rovers in action against Chris Shields of Dundalk. Photo: Sportsfile

Kenny's men already had the team goals record in the bag, and Patrick Hoban's brace means he is a goal away from being the first player to hit 30 in a league season since 1955. He probably should have got there in this turkey shoot.

The record chase is the only element of suspense that has surrounded the final weeks of the run-in. Ten of last night's starting team are already tied down for next year, so there's only a handful of contractual issues for Kenny to resolve in the coming weeks.

It should make for the smoothest winter of his time in charge, which is ominous for the chasing pack.

This was a complete mismatch, and a challenging gig for Sligo Rovers' U-19 manager Brian Dorrian, who is interim manager for the rest of the season after the departure of Ger Lyttle.

Sean Hoare, left, and Sean Gannon of Dundalk celebrate winning the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division. Photo: Sportsfile
Sean Hoare, left, and Sean Gannon of Dundalk celebrate winning the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division. Photo: Sportsfile

Liam Buckley, the likely replacement for Lyttle, was present to get a handle on the scale of the task he faces. It's a big one.

Inside ten minutes, it was clear the Bit O'Red were in for a punishing evening. There was an early let-off when Patrick McEleney was chopped down in the box, with young goalkeeper Ed McGinty stopping Hoban's penalty.

But Dundalk were relentless and Michael Duffy had a volley disallowed for offside before John Mountney collected a Ronan Murray pass to chip home an opener. That set the tone for the evening, and Dundalk were three up by the interval. Duffy steered home the second, beating McGinty at the near post following a move involving Murray and Hoban.

Mountney celebrated a new two-year contract by bagging a brace with a header from a Dean Jarvis cross, although a blow he took in the process meant he did not return for the second half.

A couple of the visiting players might have fancied sitting out the second 45 too. Dorrian did send in youngster Niall Morahan, who has come through the underage ranks, and this was a valuable learning curve. He was caught out as Seán Gannon roved into the box to win another penalty. Hoban made no mistake second time around; it lifted his spirits as Callan-McFadden had just cleared a goal-bound effort off the line.

The Galwegian didn't have to wait long for another, with sub Dylan Connolly skipping down the right to deliver a cross that the attacker dispatched for his 29th of the campaign thus equalling the great Brendan Bradley's best ever campaign.

There was still a quarter of the game remaining for the beleaguered guests, although the 3,877 crowd did warmly applaud visiting midfielder Lee Lynch for an audacious attempt that struck the bar.

Most of the attendance were ready to hit another bar by that juncture. There was an important piece of silverware to collect before they made the journey.

Dundalk - Rogers, Gannon, Gartland, Hoare, Jarvis; Shields (Massey 77), McEleney; Mountney (Connolly 45), Murray (McGrath 62), Duffy; Hoban.

Sligo Rovers - McGinty, Callan-McFadden, Mahon, Sharkey, Wixted (Morahan 45); McCabe, Keaney (Morrison 66); Twardek, Lynch, Kerrigan (Collins 74); Drennan.

Ref - R Rogers (Dublin)

Irish Independent

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