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Cruel for Drogheda as champions snatch late victory in Louth derby

John Mountney’s 90th-minute free-kick was deflected home in a 2-1 win for Dundalk at United Park.

Darren Meenan Richie Towell and Daryl Horgan hug Darren Meenan after his strike. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Drogheda United 1-2 Dundalk

CHAMPIONS DUNDALK ENDED their United Park winless run and extended their lead at the top of the SSE Airtricity League in the process as goals from Darren Meenan and a last gasp John Mountney goal earned them a vital win over Drogheda.

Mountney’s 90th-minute free-kick was low and weak but took a huge deflection off team-mate Meenan to wrong-foot Drogheda goalkeeper Micheal Schlingermann and break home hearts.

For as dominant as Stephen Kenny’s men have been over the past two seasons, they arrived at United Park without a win in their last three games by the Boyne. Two of those games were defeats, notably the 1-4 reverse on the opening day of the 2013 season and the famous FAI Cup semi-final defeat six months earlier.

Louth derbies tend to be – unsurprisingly – tense affairs but there was a moment of real poignancy before kick-of as a minute’s applause was held as a mark of respect to Eugene Maher, who tragically died earlier this week.

Eugene’s son Stephen, a former Dundalk player, lined out for Drogheda just 72 hours after his father’s passing.

727568812 Managers Stephen Kenny and Johnny McDonnell. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Attendances aren’t what they once were at United Park but at least once a year, the old ground plays host to this derby of real significance in the Wee County.

They’re weren’t too many free seats left come kick off, and given the noise generated by both sets of supporters, those not tuned into the importance of this fixture were soon made all too aware of it.

It’s not too often the dugout shouts from Johnny McDonnell or his opposing manager are drowned out at United, but with a sizable away support making the short journey from Dundalk, they couldn’t be heard here as both sides started brightly.

David McMillan found himself in space for a free header before Daryl Horgan curled a shot over from 20 yards. Drogheda looked sprightly too, and Lee Duffy got Brian Gartland in a tangle before moving into the area and poking a shot wide.

The league leaders were seeing more of the ball though and when Richie Towell was upended in a central position outside the box, Dane Massey’s left-foot free-kick took a deflection on the wall before hitting the post and bouncing away. Micheal Schlingermann was beaten.

Moments later, the goalkeeper failed to collect a Darren Meenan corner. When Massey headed it back in towards goal, McMillan executed a fine shot on the turn but it was kept out by Schlingermann.

Before half-time, the stopper was called upon again. This time, Richie Towell played in Meenan and Schlingermann was off his line like a shot to smother.

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Lee Duffy The Drogheda player celebrate with goalscorer Lee Duffy. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The second half followed a similar vein to the first, with Dundalk controlling possession but finding Drogheda a tough nut to crack. But the goal did arrive.

After Ronan Finn forced Schlingermann into a flying save, Meenan wriggled free of two Drogheda defenders on the edge of the box and rifled home a low shot.

Just seven minutes later, Drogheda were level. At this stage, the game was frantic. A slack loss of possession in midfield by Dundalk allowed Sea Brennan to play a through ball in for Lee Duffy. The in-form striker batted off the attentions of Andy Boyle and rounded Gary Rogers to tap in.

Dundalk looked the more likely to snatch a winner as the game wore on. Andy Boyle’s header from a corner was comfortably saved before Schlingermann did brilliantly to prevent Finn after neat build-up play involving Horgan and McMillan.

The goalkeeper got himself in the way of a series of other opportunities before he was cruelly beaten as the clock ticked past 90 minutes.

DROGHEDA UNITED: Micheal Schlingermann, Mick Daly, Alan Byrne, Robert O’Reilly, HJoe Gorman, Sean Thornton, Stephen Maher, Sean Brennan (James Daly, 84), Jason Marks, Cathal Brady (Tiernan Mulvenna, 76), Lee Duffy.

DUNDALK: Gary Rogers, Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle, Dane Massey, Stephen O’Donnell, Richie Towell, Darren Meenan, Ronan Finn (Kurtis Byrne, 81), Daryl Horgan (Chris Shields, 91), David McMillan (John Mountney, 84).

REFEREE: David McKeon

MAN OF THE MATCH: Micheal Schlingermann (Drogheda United)

Originally published Friday at 22.00

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