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Champions elect! Dundalk on brink of title as Hoban levels Towell's record

Stephen Kenny’s side have one hand on the trophy.

Dundalk romped into a 3-0 lead.
Dundalk romped into a 3-0 lead.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Dundalk 3

Derry City 2

Caoimhín Reilly reports from Oriel Park

DUNDALK ARE CHAMPIONS — in all but name. In truth, before tonight’s defeat of Derry City at Oriel Park, they had a firm grasp of a fourth Airtricity League title in five seasons, and 13th in their history.

And, now, with four games to play, they lead Cork City by 12 points and boast a superior goal difference, to the tune of +25.

They performed like title-winners here, overcoming a slow start, where they coughed up a few openings, to easily see off the Candystripes, sending them to a 17th league defeat of a disappointing campaign.

Daniel Cleary’s second goal of the season — a bullet of a header from close range — put the Lilywhites ahead on 16 minutes, a lead they doubled within four minutes thanks to a goal made in Derry.

Winger Michael Duffy, the provider for the opener, played a beautiful ball to Patrick McEleney in space, and from 18 yards, the midfielder picked out the bottom corner.

Dundalk were rampant and scored a third — the best of the lot — on the brow of half-time as top-scorer Patrick Hoban blasted, right-footed to the top corner from left of the area.

The strike earned the Galwegian a 25th league goal of the season, drawing him level with former team-mate Richie Towell’s record, set three seasons ago. And how he tried to surpass the tally in the second half.

Patrick McEleney scores a goal Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

He spurned glorious chances in quick succession before having an effort ruled out for offside and forcing Ger Doherty into a flying stop. It just wasn’t to be his night before being replaced by Georgie Kelly before the close.

Against the run of play, Kenny Shiels’ side pulled a goal back with 20 minutes to play.

After Gary Rogers had stopped Adrian Delap’s weak attempt, Dundalk left-full Dean Jarvis — against his former club — was helpless as the ball deflected off him and across the goal-line.

And another followed for the Foylesiders as substitute Ben Fisk rounded Rogers and found the net.

That placed a rather blurred look on what was a dominant Dundalk victory. Nevertheless, a night of celebration wasn’t to be taken from as the hosts celebrated as champions would post-match.

In the final minute, Derry’s Kevin McHattie saw red for pulling back Dylan Connolly as the winger broke through on goal.

DUNDALK: Gary Rogers; Seán Gannon, Daniel Cleary, Seán Hoare, Dean Jarvis; Chris Shields, Jamie McGrath; John Mountney (Dylan Connolly 62), Patrick McEleney (Ronan Murray 62), Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban (Georgie Kelly 86).

DERRY CITY: Ger Doherty; Jamie McDonagh, Eoin Toal, Darren Cole, Kevin McHattie; Aaron McEneff (Dean Shiels HT), Aaron Splaine; Adrian Delap (Ben Fisk 84), Rory Hale, Ally Roy (Nicky Low HT); Ronan Hale.

Referee: Paul McLaughlin (Monaghan).

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About the author:

Caoimhín Reilly

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