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Towell's double seals a big win for Dundalk at a sold-out Turner's Cross

The champions are now five points clear at the top.

Cork City 1

Dundalk 2

Richie Towell scores his side's second goal from the penalty spot Richie Towell's penalty secured the win tonight for Dundalk. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

THE PREMIER DIVISION champions secured a very important three points tonight at the expense of last season’s runners-up.

Richie Towell, the SSE Airtricity League’s in-form player, took his tally for the season to nine, scoring a goal in each half as Dundalk ran out 2-1 winners against Cork City in front of a sell-out crowd of 6,900 at Turner’s Cross.

Towell netted just before the interval to cancel out Billy Dennehy’s fortuitous 32nd-minute opener for City, and the Dundalk midfielder scored his second from the penalty spot just two minutes into the second-half after David McMillan had been brought down by Darren Dennehy.

The win sends Stephen Kenny’s unbeaten side five points clear of John Caulfield’s men at the top of the Premier Division table, although Shamrock Rovers could cut that lead to four with a win in Limerick tomorrow.

Having been red-carded in last week’s draw with Shamrock Rovers, Gary Rogers returned from suspension for the visitors to resume his place in goal at the expense of Gabriel Sava, who deputised in the 3-0 defeat of Galway United on Monday night.

John Kavanagh takes a throw in It was a packed house at Turner's Cross, with an official attendance of 6,900. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The Cork City starting line-up showed four personnel changes from their 2-0 win over Longford Town earlier in the week. Alan Bennett returned to the heart of the defence in place of Dan Murray, John Dunleavy replaced Garry Buckley in midfield, while Karl Sheppard and John O’Flynn started in attack ahead of Kieran Djilali and Mark O’Sullivan.

Cork City made the brighter start and had two very good chances to open the scoring inside the first five minutes. Karl Sheppard found himself unmarked but headed Colin Healy’s corner over the crossbar with just over a minute on the clock, and John O’Flynn volleyed wide after being played through on goal by Ross Gaynor’s long ball over the top.

But Dundalk gradually settled into the game and began to pose questions of the City defence. First, Richie Towell had a goalbound shot blocked by Alan Bennett, before Ronan Finn cut in from the left and saw his effort saved by Mark McNulty.

City were dealt a blow in the 19th minute when captain John Dunleavy was forced off having landed awkwardly after challenging for a header. He was replaced in midfield by Garry Buckley, and shortly afterwards Dundalk were the width of the crossbar away from taking the lead as Daryl Horgan’s brilliant 25-yard shot rattled the woodwork.

The deadlock was eventually broken in the 28th minute, however, and it was the hosts who edged ahead. Billy Dennehy’s cross from the right left Dundalk goalkeeper Gary Rogers wrong-footed, having deflected off defender Andy Boyle and into the back of the net.

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Billy Dennehy celebrates scoring the first goal of the game with teammates Ross Gaynor, Billy Dennehy and Colin Healy celebrate Cork City's opener. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Dennehy had a chance to double City’s lead four minutes later when he was teed up by a sublime pass from Colin Healy, but the Kerry winger’s shot from just outside the box was well saved by Rogers.

Darren Meenan went close to equalising for Dundalk in the 38th minute as his close-range effort was blocked by John Kavanagh. Dennehy then threatened again for the home side but Brian Gartland’s block kept his shot away from goal.

The sides were level again on the stroke of half-time. Meenan’s corner from the left was punched away by McNulty, but it fell to Towell — who else? — on the edge of the box and he finished emphatically to the roof of the net. The whistle sounded immediately afterwards as the sides went in at the break at one apiece — a fair reflection of an entertaining and competitive first 45 minutes.

Dundalk were handed a glorious opportunity to take the lead inside a minute of the restart. Towell’s superb ball over the top released David McMillan, who was brought down in the box by a sloppy challenge from Darren Dennehy. Towell sent McNulty the wrong way with the subsequent penalty to score his ninth league goal of the season.

David McMillan is brought down for a penalty by Darren Dennehy Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

City dominated thereafter as they went in search of a leveller, although Dundalk very nearly scored a third in the 64th minute when David McMillan’s half-volley struck the post. Three minutes earlier, City defender Alan Bennett had a header cleared off the line by a sea of Dundalk bodies.

John Caulfield’s men controlled the possession and continued to push for an equaliser but struggled to create chances — until the fourth minute of added time when Karl Sheppard headed inches wide of the post. Dundalk breathed a sigh of relief as they held on to take a massive win back to Louth.

CORK CITY: Mark McNulty; John Kavanagh, Darren Dennehy, Alan Bennett, Ross Gaynor (Rob Lehane, 84); John Dunleavy (Garry Buckley, 19), Colin Healy; Billy Dennehy, Liam Miller, Karl Sheppard; John O’Flynn (Mark O’Sullivan, 66).

DUNDALK: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Andy Boyle, Brian Gartland, Dane Massey; Chris Shields, Richie Towell; Darren Meenan (John Mountney, 74), Ronan Finn (Stephen O’Donnell, 62), Daryl Horgan (Shane Grimes, 80); David McMillan.

Man-of-the-match: Richie Towell.

Referee: Rob Rogers.

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About the author:

Paul Dollery

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