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Dublin: 2 °C Tuesday 12 November, 2019

McEleney scores on home debut as reigning champions ominously make it two from two

Paddy Barratt was also on the mark while Ryan Curran scored an own goal as Dundalk eased to a 3-0 win.

Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Dundalk 3

Finn Harps 0

DUNDALK MADE IT two wins from two at the start of the SSE Airtricity League season with a routine win over newly promoted Finn Harps at Oriel Park.

Goals in either half from Paddy Barratt and Patrick McEleney and a Ryan Curran own goal secured the three points for Stephen Kenny’s side who now move, almost ominously, towards the top of the Premier Division with the season in just its second week.

It was a quirk that coming into this game, the unfancied newly promoted side were unbeaten in their last four encounters against the reigning champions and double winners.

That four game streak came back when the two sides met in the First Division in 2007 – and Dundalk especially have come a long way since then.

Here, it took them just 16 minutes to get the home crowd off their seats on a chilly evening at Oriel Park. Deputising for Brian Gartland in more ways than one, central defender Paddy Barratt was unchallenged when Darren Meenan delivered a corner from the right and he glanced a header just inside the far post.

Dundalk players celebrate Paddy Barrett's goal Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Until that point, Stephen Kenny’s men had dominated and continued to do so after the goal. McEleney starred on a first match in front of his new home supporters. His neat touches and skill in maneuvering his way out of tight situations was a sure fire way to get the crowd onside.

The very best chances of the opening 45 minutes all came Dundalk’s way and they were continually the benefactors of sloppy Finn Harps marking in their area.

Just minutes after Barratt’s opener, he went close again when Meenan delivered a free kick from the right. The defender stole in at the back post unmarked but could only direct his header wide.

Daryl Horgan with Ethan Boyle Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

After Kilduff had crossed for Finn to head over, the home side ended the half with McEleney heading Meenan’s free kick against the post with Barratt again closing in but failing to get a touch.

Just 15 minutes were on the clock when Harps left back Ciaran Coll picked up a booking for pulling back Meenan and that may have gone some way to explaining how much of Dundalk’s forward forays came down his flank.

In the second half, a strong Michael Funston run that ended in a low shot easily collected by Gary Rogers was a sign of things to come and Ollie Horgan’s charges went much closer when Ryan Curran fired wide shortly after.

If they were faint hopes, they’d soon be extinguished. Richard Brush did well to prevent an own goal before Ronan Finn flashed a long range shot over the bar. Then Dane Massey raided down the left and pulled the ball back from the byline for McEleney to cap a fine home debut with a sweet side-foot finish.

Patrick McEleney celebrates scoring their second goal Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

The visitor’s misery was compounded when Ryan Curran flashed Daryl Horgan’s corner past Brush and into his own goal with 15 minutes to play.

Dundalk are up and running on home soil. For Harps, they won’t have a tougher assignment all year.

DUNDALK: Gary Rogers, Sean Gannon, Paddy Barratt, Andy Boyle, Dane Massey, Chris Shields, Ronan Finn, Darren Meenan (John Mountney 70), Patrick McEleney (Robbie Benson, 76), Daryl Horgan, Ciaran Kilduff (David McMillan, 72).

Subs Not Used: Gabriel Sava, Shane Grimes, Brian Gartland, Stephen O’Donnell.

FINN HARPS: Richard Brush, Damien McNulty, Ciaran Coll, Keith Cowan, Gareth Harkin (Kevin McHugh, 78), Michael Funston, Raymond Foy, Dave Scully, Ethan Boyle, Adam Hanlon (Liam Flatley, 66), Ryan Curran (Matthew Crossan, 78).

Subs Not Used: Tommy Lee McCarron, Ryan McConnell, Tommy McMonagle, Tony McNamee.

REFEREE: Ray Matthews (Longford)

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