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Dublin: 7°C Monday 19 April 2021
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Dundalk get the floodgates open after just 12 seconds against understrength Derry

Like taking Candystripes from a baby for the league leaders.

Dundalk 5

Derry 0

BOUNCEBACKABILITY. CHECK.

While you can’t read that much into a routine win against a depleted side who openly admitted their eyes were fixed on a cup quarter final on the horizon, Dundalk’s 5-0 hammering of Derry City went some way to allaying any fears among the support about their title credentials.

Defeat to the champions on Friday night had opened up this SSE Airtricity League title race in a way that seemed very improbable just seven days earlier.

Dundalk’s lead at the top of the division had been cut to just three points with six rounds left to play. Were the champions-elect about to implode with the end now in sight? Runs to the latter stages of all three domestic cup competitions, coupled with progress in Europe may have finally caught up with a relatively young and inexperienced squad.

Despite drawing a blank against St. Pats in Friday’s televised clash, Dundalk had never gone two games without scoring under Stephen Kenny. In a record-breaking season for the Lilywhites, that’s one sequence they weren’t keen on extending.

Darren Meenan celebrates scoring his sides first goal with Kurtis Byrne and Patrick Hoban Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Thanks to five goals here, the first from Darren Meenan after just 12 seconds, they didn’t have to worry. Against a depleted Derry side, Stephen Kenny’s league leaders blew their visitors away. They were three goals up at half time and it could have been so much more.

Meenan’s opener has blink-and you’ll-miss-it stuff. From the kick off, Derry conceded possession in midfield. Pat Hoban played in Meenan and he smashed the ball unerringly past Ciaran Gallagher.

Both Meenan and striker Kurtis Byrne were the two players who returned to the line-up tonight after missing out against Pats in Inchicore. Whatever Meenan could do, Byrne could match. He scored the second after 34 minutes, nipping in ahead of Shane McEleney to steer home Dane Massey’s left wing cross.

Kurtis Byrne scores his sides second goal past goalkeeper Ciaran Gallagher Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The first half was as one-way home fans could hope, and away fans dread, it could be. Before the interval, Massey beautifully curled in a free kick, leaving stand-in stopper Gallagher with no chance.

Derry have scored 38 goals in the Premier Division this season. 24 of those strikes have come from the boots and heads of Rory Patterson, Patrick McEleney and Michael Duffy. For various reasons, none of that trio started at Oriel Park. Without that firepower, Peter Hutton’s men were sitting ducks.

Within ten minutes of the restart, Dundalk had added two more. First, Pat Hoban scored his 16th of the league season, leaving him just one short of Christy Fagan in the race for the league’s golden boot. Then, Brian Gartland moved into double figures himself, remarkable for a central defender, in all competitions.

From that moment, the game was a non-event. But it had long since been won. Dundalk bounced back, in style.

DUNDALK: Peter Cherrie, Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland Andy Boyle (Mark Rossiter, 55), Dane Massey, Chris Shields, Richie Towell, Kurtis Byrne, Darren Meenan, Daryl Horgan (Donal McDermott, 59), Patrick Hoban (David McMillan, 77).

Substitutes: Gabriel Sava, Ruaidhri Higgins, John Mountney, David McMillan, Mark Griffin.

DERRY CITY: Ciaran Gallagher, Shaun Kelly, Barry Molloy, Shane McEleney, Barry McNamee (Patrick McEleney, 71), Nathan Boyle, Joshua Tracey, Sean Houston, Mark Timlin, Ryan Curran, Shay Dunlop (Stephen Dooley, 65).

Substitutes: Ger Doherty, Ryan McBride, Patrick McEleney, Aaron Barry, Philip Lowry.

REFEREE: Tomas Connolly.

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