Donall Farmer/INPHO Andy Boyle with Gavin Hoolahan take no prisoners.
# Louth Derby
League leaders held in Wee County derby
In form Gary O’Neill was on the score-sheet again for Drogheda.

Dundalk 1

Drogheda United 1

DUNDALK SAW THEIR lead at the top of the SSE Airtricity League cut to four points as they were made to work for a point against a rejuvenated Drogheda United in the Louth derby at United Park.

Despite amassing 32 points from a possible 36, Stephen Kenny’s side could only take one from their Wee County rivals; Pat Hoban’s 19th minute striker was cancelled out almost instantly by the in-form Gary O’Neill.

In front of a bumper crowd – to be expected for one of the countries’ most hard fought derby encounters – Drogheda had the first chance to hit the front in the very first minute.

Gavan Holohan’s corner from the right made its way to the back post. There, Mick Daly steadied himself and shot but it was well saved by Peter Cherrie.

Drogheda came into this in sterling form, with three wins in four, including last week’s four goal rout of UCD and the previous week’s win in Tallaght. Buoyed by their new management, spirts were evidently high around United Park.

But Dundalk, league leaders by six clear points at the start of play and themselves unbeaten in 13 league games, would provide a real test of their credentials. Damien Richardson insists this squad has the quality to climb the division. A good showing against their high flying rivals would go some way to proving justifying that opinion.

Stephen Kenny’s charges took control of the game however. First, Darren Meenan beat Micheal Schlingermann to a ball over the top but when he retrieved the ball and squared for Pat Hoban, the keeper recovered to save.

Then Andy Boyle went close with a header and Hoban had an effort ruled out by the offside flag. Then, the goal. From Darren Meenan’s corner, one of the better deliveries on an erratic night for the winger, Hoban’s diving header steered the ball past Schlingermann for 1-0.

Patrick Hoban Donall Farmer / INPHO Patrick Hoban's celebrations would prove short-lived. Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

The home supporters may have feared the worst after that, thinking back to the last meeting between these sides, a 0-7 reverse in Oriel Park in May.

But those fears were allayed, almost instantly. Within a minute, Gary O’Neill had turned Sean Gannon in the box, too easily, and his shot flew past Cherrie and into the top corner.

From that point, the name became all too niggly. Gartland went into the book, joined shortly afterwards by Gavin Brennan who appeared to be getting more wound up by the minute.

In comparison to a first half full of decent fare, full blooded challenges and boundless endeavour, the second period was a damp squib. The challenges and endeavour remained but the quality football had long since desserted us at United Park.

Cathal Brady saw his shot palmed away by Cherrie and Dundalk’s efforts on goal were limited to those of the half-chance variety. Darren Meenan and Dane Massey went close, relatively.

DROGHEDA UNITED: Micheal Schlingermann, Mick Daly (Peter McGlynn, 80), Shane Grimes, Alan McNally, Cathal Brady, Gavan Holohan, Gary O’Neill (Declan O’Brien, 92), Gavin Brennan, Ciaran McGuigan, Carl Walshe, Daire Doyle.

Substitutes: Dylan Connolly, Paul Andrews, Sean O’Connor, Roy Kierans, Garreth Brady.

DUNDALK: Peter Cherrie, Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle, Daryl Horgan (John Mountney, 92), Patrick Hoban (David McMillan 84), Kurtis Byrne (Donal McDermott, 71), Dane Massey, Chris Shields, Richie Towell, Darren Meenan.

Substitutes: Gabriel Sava, Ruaishri Higgins, Mark Griffin, Mark Rossiter.

Referee: Neil Doyle.

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