On-fire winger Kelly strikes late in blow to Derry's European dream
Dundalk 1 Derry City 0
Daniel Kelly popped up with another vital goal as Dundalk inflicted a serious blow on Derry City's European hopes with a 1-0 win over the Candystripes at Oriel Park.
With the league title and EA Sports Cup already in the bag, it would have been understandable if Vinny Perth's treble chasers let their standards slip in a match which, ultimately, had nothing riding on it but this win stretched their unbeaten domestic run to an incredible 31 games.
Both sides had chances in a first half which ended scoreless with Kelly flashing a volley just wide of Peter Cherrie's upright early on.
The Scottish goalkeeper then made a brilliant save to keep a Patrick Hoban header out before the interval.
Derry, who lost influential midfielder Greg Sloggett to injury just past the half-hour, should have gone in with their noses in front at the break but Barry McNamee failed to capitalise on a mistake in the Dundalk back four with just Gary Rogers to beat. It was their clearest opening of the night.
The winner arrived in the 64th minute. Teenager Lido Lotefa, who was introduced just for minutes earlier, played a big part, playing the ball out for Sean Gannon whose cross was swept home at the far post by the incoming Kelly.
It was the winger's 13th goal of the season, a fine return in his first season.
Gannon and Kelly almost combined again in the 73rd minute but the latter couldn't adjust his feet and Declan Devine's side, who had a penalty appeal waved away when Junior went down under pressure from Brian Gartland, almost snatched a point in their next attack but substitute Grant Gillespie saw his drive come back off the post.
The loss, coupled with Bohemians' win over Cork City, means the Candsytripes have slipped to fourth in the table with just three games left to play.
DUNDALK - Rogers; Gannon, Gartland, Boyle, Dummigan; Shields, Benson; D Kelly (Hanratty 87), Murray (G Kelly 76), Duffy (Lotefa 60); Hoban.
DERRY CITY - Cherrie; McDonagh, Toal, Gilchrist, Coll; Sloggett (Gillespie 31), Harkin; McCauley (Davis 57), McNamee (McCrudden 80), Junior; Parkhouse.
Ref - N Doyle