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Towell's late winner earns Dundalk bragging rights in the Louth derby

The midfielder struck in the 88th minutes to hand the champions three points against Drogheda United at Oriel Park.

Towell celebrates his goal.
Towell celebrates his goal.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Dundalk 1
Drogheda United 0

RICHIE TOWELL’S late goal secured all three points for Dundalk over Drogheda United in the Louth derby at Oriel Park, but the champions were made to sweat by a resolute defensive showing from their Wee County neighbours.

The last time Drogheda made the short trip to Oriel Park, they were on the receiving end of a 7-0 trouncing right in the midst of a dire run last season. Even on that night, they only trailed by one goal at the break so holding Dundalk scoreless at half-time here won’t have had Johnny McDonnell counting any chickens.

Inevitably, the Dundalk onslaught came but, in truth, they dominated the game for the most part. Clear-cut chances were scarce in a first half that saw Dundalk spend most of their time taking set pieces in dangerous areas. Drogheda’s cheap concessions were offering Stephen Kenny’s men an easy route to goal. Darren Meenan’s inconsistent delivery left much to be desired.

In the first half, the champions best opportunity came when after good work from Ronan Finn on the edge of the area, Richie Towell’s low shot was turned beyond the post for a corner by goalkeeper Micheal Schlingermann.

The away side rarely threatened their rival’s goal. Alan Byrne’s free header from a Sean Brennan free kick dropped wide of the post and only a few lapses from former Drog Gary Rogers gave them another sight.
Rogers has looked shaky with the ball at his feet in recent games, but a sixth clean sheet in seven is no mean sheet.

David McMillan with Lloyd Buckley Lloyd Buckley of Drogheda United with Dundalk's David McMillan. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

In the second half – if it even seemed possible – Dundalk dominated even more so. Drogs boss McDonnell eluded to his side imposing a reargard action against their Louth neighbours and so it was. The home team did create chances of more substance though.

Dane Massey’s free kick was saved while SWAI Player of the Month for March David McMillan did well to beat Lloyd Buckley to Meenan’s cross but he couldn’t steer his header between the posts.

Late on, returning captain Stephen O’Donnell – on as a substitute – saw his close ranger header go over the bar. To be fair, the flick on from Daryl Horgan’s cross changed the ball’s path. It wasn’t an easy chance.

Eventually, the goal came. In the 88th minute, McMillan darted into the box and played a clever reverse pass for the overlapping Massey. His ball across goal was missed by Kurtis Byrne and a host of Drogheda defenders too but not by Towell at the back post.

It’s Dundalk’s seventh straight league clean sheet at home – they haven’t lost a goal at Oriel since last August – and the result also sets a new league record as the Lilywhites have now gone 22 home games unbeaten in league competition.

For Drogheda, another demoralising late defeat and their poor run in the league continues. Table toppers Dundalk have now won six from seven, shipped just one goal in the process and tonight extended their lead with Cork City and Shamrock Rovers both dropping points.

Gavin Cooney
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DUNDALK: Gary Rogers, Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle, Dane Massey, Chris Shields (Stephen O’Donnell, 72), Richie Towell, Darren Meenan (Kurtis Byrne, 80), Daryl Horgan, Ronan Finn (John Mountney, 68) David McMillan.

Substitutes: Gabriel Sava, Paddy Barratt, Shane Grimes, Ciaran O’Connor.

DROGHEDA UNITED: Micheal Schlingermann, Mick Daly, Alan Byrne (Shane Dunne, 65), Lloyd Buckley, Joe Gorman, Stephen Maher, Sean Brennan, Mark Hughes, Jason Marks (Cathal Brady, 46), Carl Walshe, Daryl Kavanagh (Tiernan Mulvenna, 85).

Substitutes: Dylan Connolly, Roy Kierans, Robert O’Reilly, Lee Duffy.

REFEREE: Padraigh Sutton

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