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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 17 October, 2018
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Caulfield receives his marching orders as Dundalk put one hand on the title

An early goal from Chris Shields gave Dundalk their first away victory over Cork City since April 2015.

Chris Shields celebrates scoring the first goal of the game Chris Shields celebrates after scoring for Dundalk. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Cork City 0
Dundalk 1

Paul Dollery reports from Turner’s Cross

THE SILVERWARE DIDN’T change hands tonight, but for the healthy contingent of travelling Dundalk natives in the 4,310 attendance, even their imminent coronation as champions may not be as satisfying as this long-awaited victory on Leeside.

Having failed to win in their previous seven visits to Turner’s Cross, the Lilywhites ended that run this evening with a result that increases their lead over the holders to nine points. They can stretch that advantage to 12 by winning their game in hand against Derry City on Tuesday.

Cork City halted Dundalk’s three-in-a-row dominance in emphatic fashion last season, but with just four games remaining for John Caulfield’s side in the 2018 campaign, the trophy has rapidly slipped from their grasp in recent weeks.

Dundalk’s home loss to Shamrock Rovers appeared to throw open the door for City, but instead of leaping through, the defending champions have been tripping over their shoelaces. 

Steven Beattie with Michael Duffy Dundalk's Michael Duffy takes on Steven Beattie of Cork City. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

With this league defeat — their third in a row — City have now taken just one point from a possible 12. Despite the expectation that the title race would go down to the wire following Rovers’ 2-1 victory at Oriel Park on 28 August, Dundalk can now afford to saunter across the finish line for their fourth championship crown in five years.

Chris Shields, one of Dundalk’s two longest-serving players and an outstanding performer all season, scored the game’s only goal after just 180 seconds to give the visitors their third win over their fiercest rivals this season.

John Caulfield made five changes in personnel to a City team that suffered a 4-2 loss to Bohemians last weekend. Damien Delaney, who endured a torrid evening at Dalymount Park, dropped down to the bench, as did central defensive partner Aaron Barry. Barry McNamee, Karl Sheppard and goalkeeper Peter Cherrie also missed out.

Mark McNulty returned between the posts, Conor McCarthy and Sean McLoughlin started at the heart of the defence, while Kieran Sadlier and Garry Buckley were both back from injury absences.

Returning to action for the first time since their 4-0 FAI Cup quarter-final win in Limerick a fortnight ago, the Dundalk side showed two amendments as Sean Hoare and Chris Shields returned at the expense of Dan Cleary and Ronan Murray.

Roy Keane Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane in attendance. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

For the second week in a row, City were forced to chase the game from early on. After gathering possession from Dane Massey on the left touchline, Shields turned inside and exchanged passes on the edge of the box with Patrick Hoban. The midfielder’s first-time strike, aided by a deflection off Conor McCarthy, put Dundalk in the ascendancy with three minutes on the clock.

The hosts appealed for a penalty shortly afterwards when Shane Griffin delivered a corner-kick from the right. City striker Graham Cummins went to ground as he sought to evade the clutches of Brian Gartland, but referee Neil Doyle wasn’t convinced.

Following some excellent link-up play between Hoban and Michael Duffy, Dundalk threatened to double their lead in the 19th minute. Duffy’s cross from the left was bound for John Mountney at the back post until Griffin made a crucial intervention.

Initially the home side had plenty of possession as they searched for an equaliser, but they were restricted to long-range efforts. Gearoid Morrissey, City’s goalscoring hero when they got the better of Dundalk here earlier in the season, forced Gary Rogers to make a good save after being teed up by Garry Buckley.

Kieran Sadlier then hit a free-kick straight at Rogers, before a promising effort from Steven Beattie was diverted over the crossbar by the head of Massey. 

Kieran Sadlier with Patrick Hoban Patrick Hoban of Dundalk under pressure from Cork City's Kieran Sadlier. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

A second goal for Dundalk looked just as likely as an equaliser, however, and it almost arrived on the stroke of half-time after more good work down the left by Duffy, whose performance would have been of particular interest to Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane, who watched the game from the Donie Forde Stand.

Duffy’s cross found Hoban, but the SSE Airtricity League’s top marksman was unable to get a substantial connection on his volley as he went in search of his 25th Premier Division goal of the season.

When John Caulfield emerged for the second half, he headed for the stand instead of the dugout. The City manager was dismissed for the third time this season following a “violent altercation” in the dressing room area during the interval, further details of which were unavailable at the time of publishing.

Although the home fans grew impatient after the restart, their team posed few problems for the Dundalk rearguard throughout the second half. Attacking the Shed End, Dundalk had City under pressure on several occasions in their bid to increase their advantage.

Shields narrowly missed the target with a long-range effort. Sean McLoughlin then made an important block to deny Hoban, with Gartland heading Duffy’s resultant corner over. A mix-up between McNulty and McLoughlin almost handed an opportunity to John Mountney. Hoban met a Sean Gannon cross with a scissors kick, which he was unable to keep down.

John Caulfield after being sent to the stands by referee Neil Doyle John Caulfield was sent off at half-time. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Dundalk’s slender lead should have made for a nervy conclusion for Stephen Kenny and his players, but as City struggled to muster a meaningful chance, the Louth outfit comfortably closed out a win that will considerably shorten their trip back to the north-east.

It won’t be long until the Premier Division trophy makes the same journey.

CORK CITY: Mark McNulty; Steven Beattie, Conor McCarthy, Sean McLoughlin, Shane Griffin; Conor McCormack (Damien Delaney, 89), Gearoid Morrissey; Jimmy Keohane, Garry Buckley (Ronan Coughlan, 62), Kieran Sadlier; Graham Cummins (Shane Daly-Bütz, 72).

DUNDALK: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Sean Hoare, Brian Gartland, Dane Massey; Chris Shields, Robbie Benson (Dean Jarvis, 87); John Mountney, Patrick McEleney (Jamie McGrath, 75), Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban (Georgie Kelly, 90).

Referee: Neil Doyle

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About the author:

Paul Dollery

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