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Massey the unlikely hero as Dundalk leave it late to beat Derry

The full-back scored a 79th-minute winner from a corner.

Dane Massey celebrates scoring.
Dane Massey celebrates scoring.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Dundalk 1

Derry City 0

A 79TH-MINUTE winner from Dane Massey saw Dundalk edge past Derry and secure an opening day win in tonight’s SSE Airtricity League Premier Division encounter.

A rare defensive lapse from Derry allowed Massey to volley home the winner 11 minutes from time.

The Candystripes had successfully frustrated their opponents for most of the game, making the manner in which they conceded all the more galling.

Daniel Kelly had gone close on more than one occasion before the goal, while debutant Tim Nilsen missed a very good chance down the other end.

Dundalk kicked off the season amid high expectations, having won the title on five of the last six occasions.

Derry, meanwhile, were hoping to build on an encouraging campaign last year in which they secured European football by finishing fourth in the table. 

They also travelled to Oriel with a total of nine new faces in their squad following a busy off-season. Last season’s top scorers Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe and David Parkhouse had both moved on, with Tim Nilsen and Walter Figueira making their first starts. Conor Clifford, Danny Lupano and Conor McCormack were also part of a new-look Derry side, with the latter handed the captain’s armband.

Dundalk had not been quite so busy in the off-season, though they still accommodated five new recruits — Darragh Leahy, Cammy Smith, Will Patching, Stefan Čolović and Greg Sloggett — in addition to having to cope with the loss of Jamie McGrath and Robbie Benson among others. Tonight, Smith and Sloggett both went straight into the starting XI, which otherwise had a familiar look to it. 

Dundalk had found it difficult against Derry in recent times, drawing twice in the league last year against the Candystripes, while also picking up two wins and beating them in both the FAI Cup and League Cup. It quickly became apparent that toppling Declan Devine’s side this evening would be a similarly difficult task.

Vinny Perth’s men started brightly, with Pat Hoban heading over from a Sean Gannon cross.

There were then shouts for a penalty in the 10th minute. After being set up by Hoban, the onrushing Massey went down in the box under the challenge of Nilsen, but the referee ignored Dundalk’s protests.

The Lilywhites continued to dominate possession as the half wore on, but lacked the ingenuity in the final third to find a breakthrough. Down the other end, Nilsen and Jamie McDonagh were looking lively and threatening sporadically.

Just after the half-hour mark, Michael Duffy’s cross found Sean Gannon at the far post, but the full-back slipped and could not get a proper connection on his attempted volley.

Moments later, Sloggett beat a man in midfield, but his subsequent cross was headed to safety by Eoin Toal. From Duffy’s ensuing corner, Hoban’s header was deflected off target as the wait for the first goal of the season at Oriel continued.

For the most part, it just wasn’t clicking for Dundalk’s attack, with Derry doing well to frustrate them while offering little going forward themselves.

dane-massey-with-daniel-lupano Dundalk’s Dane Massey with Daniel Lupano of Derry City Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Dundalk went close just after the break. Duffy’s cross was only half cleared, with Daniel Kelly firing just wide from the edge of the box.

Then, in a near-identical situation on 51 minutes, a corner fell to Kelly and his powerful shot was deflected onto the post.

Moments later, Derry missed the game’s best chance up to that point. McDonagh escaped the attentions of Massey, and his cross picked out Nilsen, but the Norwegian attacker’s header could have been better executed, with Gary Rogers able to get a hand to keep it out.

Just before the hour mark, a stray backpass from Conor Clifford put Kelly through on goal, but Conor McCormack was alert to get back and make the tackle, sparing his fellow midfielder’s blushes in the process.

Shortly thereafter, Cammy Smith’s long-range effort forced Peter Cherrie into an acrobatic save, as the pressure on Derry’s goal intensified.

But then, after that brief flurry, the match quietened down again.

As full-time approached, Duffy was starting to see plenty of the ball. Teenage defender Danny Lupano — signed on loan from Hull in the off-season — had kept the winger relatively quiet. However, the former Celtic man did find space for a shot on 70 minutes, but Cherrie got down well to make the save. 

Just as the game looked to be heading for a scoreless draw, Dundalk broke the deadlock out of nothing.

Substitute Jordan Flores put in a dangerous corner and lax defending allowed Massey to volley home virtually unmarked, with Cherrie only able to help it into the net.

Derry went all-out attack amid a frantic finish. There was still time for Rogers to keep out Ally Gilchrist’s close-range attempt after a free kick was launched into the box in the dying seconds.

Dundalk: 1. Gary Rogers 2. Sean Gannon 21. Dan Cleary 4. Andy Boyle 14. Dane Massey 6. Chris Shields 10. Greg Sloggett (Flores 72) 23. Cammy Smith (Patching 75) 27. Daniel Kelly (Hoare 87) 7. Michael Duffy 9. Pat Hoban.

Subs: 20. Aaron McCarey 3. Brian Gartland 4. Sean Hoare 6. Jordan Flores 15. Darragh Leahy 27. Lido Lotefa 18. Will Patching

Derry: 1. Peter Cherrie, 3. Ciaran Coll 4. Ciaron Harkin (Mallon 83) 6. Eoin Toal 7. Jamie McDonagh, 9. Tim Nilsen 10. Walter Figueira (Liddle 77) 16. Conor Clifford (Malone 63) 21. Danny Lupano 22 Conor McCormack 23. Ally Gilchrist

Subs: 13. Nathan Gartside 2. Colm Horgan 11. Adam Liddle 17. Moussa Bakayoko 19. Steven Mallon 24. Mark McChrystal 29. Jack Malone.

Referee: Neil Doyle

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy  / reports from Oriel Park

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