Ward sparkles as Dundalk keep their treble hopes alive
Dundalk 5 Wexford Youths 0 - EA Sports Cup semi-final
Stephen Kenny might not appreciate it but, if Dundalk keep going the way they are at present, whispers of a domestic treble will become louder by the week.
Six points clear at the top of the SSE Airtricity League table and with First Division Galway FC standing in their way of a place in the last eight of the FAI Cup, Dundalk cruised into the EA Sports Cup final – the club's first in 19 years – by dismissing Wexford Youths out of hand at Oriel Park yesterday.
While the league title is the holy grail for Dundalk fans, there is no reason why, on current form, they cannot have a tilt at all three trophies still up for grabs.
Kenny certainly has the squad at his disposal. His starting XI yesterday had none of the players who began Friday night's 2-1 win at Cork City but it still included players of real quality in Mark Rossiter, David McMillan, Keith Ward and Ruaidhri Higgins.
Higgins was part of the Derry City side that won the League Cup four years on the trot from 2008-11 and he was instrumental in booking another final appearance on September 20.
His vicious corner led to the opener after 24 minutes, Marc Griffin profiting from slack marking by the Youths to heading home for his first Dundalk of the season.
Ward joined him in getting off the mark with the second just before the break.
Higgins was again the architect, his quick free-kick catching the Youths back four cold. Ward collected, lifted his head and floated a delightful 20-yard chip over Graham Doyle to rapturous applause.
Three more arrived without reply in the second half, with Ward at the centre of two. He set up McMillan in the 77th minute, before his through ball enabled John Mountney to round Doyle No 4. McMillan lashed home the fifth from 25 yards in injury-time.
Dundalk: Sava; O'Connor (Poynton 80), Rossiter, Kelly (Finnegan 68), Kaguako; Ward, Higgins; Mountney, McDermott (McDonald 30), Griffin; McMillan.
Wexford Youths: G Doyle; Shortt (Browne 80), Last, Cantwell, Nolan; Cox (B Doyle 88), Dunne, Wall, Molloy; Furlong, Ryan.
Referee: R Harvey