Top of the table clash ends level as Dundalk and Derry finish with 10-men after fiery clash
Dundalk 1-1 Derry City
Barry McNamee secured Derry City a share of the spoils at Oriel Park as the top two teams in the country ended in deadlock.
David McMillan’s classy finish gave the champions an early lead but Chris Shields’ 55th minute sending-off, followed by McNamee’s equaliser nine minutes later, saw the momentum swing Derry’s way.
Referee Padraigh Sutton, who reached into his pocket a staggering 11 times, levelled matters when he dismissed Conor McCormack with 15 minutes to go but the Candystripes held on to take something from the border venue for the first time since 2013.
Things didn’t look too promising for Kenny Shiels’ men when they fell behind after just four minutes.
Dane Massey’s quick free on the left caught City full-back Niclas Vemmulund napping and Ronan Finn exposed his error, picking out McMillan who controlled the ball with his right before toe-poking with his left into Ger Doherty’s bottom corner.
Dundalk looked to hammer home their advantage and Brian Gartland rose unmarked to meet a Darren Meenan corner six minutes later but his header hit McMillan who just couldn’t adjust his feet to divert the ball goalwards. Daryl Horgan, who has been in sizzling form of late, then cut in from the left but his right footed effort crept just wide.
The visitors, with Greenore man McCormack seeing plenty of the ball, established a foothold in the game but they never looked like posing too much of a threat to Gary Rogers’ goal and the lion’s share of the action took place in the Derry half, making Shiels’ televised comments during the first half that the position of the dug-outs impeded his view of the action seem strange.
If the visitors looked toothless, Dundalk, on the other hand, brimmed with intent when they reached the final third and Finn was unlucky to see the latter part of a one-two with Meenan just bounce away from him at the critical moment, allowing Doherty to gather.
The Derry City manager’s mood, if not his view, would have been altered in the 55th minute when Shields, who found his way into Sutton’s notebook just five minutes earlier, saw red for taking Rory Patterson down just past halfway.
The visitors showed few signs of making the extra man count but they stunned the home support by drawing level with their first real effort of the game in the 67th minute. Monaghan was the architect, his defence-splitting pass sending Patterson in on the right. The striker’s effort was just as good, beating Rogers only to see it come back off the post. McNamee, however, was there to slide home the loose ball.
Derry’s momentum was checked nine minutes later when McCormack saw red at Oriel Park for the second time in his career by picking up a second yellow for a foul on McMillan. Like Shields, the Greenore native had every right to feel a bit aggrieved. Stephen Kenny sent Ciaran Kilduff and Patrick McEleney on in a bid to win the points and Stephen O’Donnell almost snatched the win in the 89th minute but his flying header was saved by Doherty.
DUNDALK – Rogers; Gannon, Gartland, Boyle, Massey; O’Donnell, Shields; Meenan (McEleney 78), Finn, Horgan; McMillan (Kilduff 78).
DERRY CITY – Doherty; Vemmulund, McBride, Barry, Jarvis; McCormack, Monaghan; McEniff (Ward 65), McNamee, McGlynn (Curtis 14); Patterson.