Lilywhites progress in Europa League to tee up tie with Hadjuk Split

First half goals from Brian Gartland, Kurtis Byrne and John Mountney handed Dundalk a 3-1 win over Jeunesse Esch of Luxembourg.

Dundalk's Brian Gartland celebrates scoring the first goal.
Dundalk's Brian Gartland celebrates scoring the first goal.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Dundalk 3-1 Jeunesse d’Esch (5-1 on aggregate)

ORIEL PARK HOSTED its first European match in four years and Dundalk gave the type of dominant performance fans have become accustomed to seeing of late — winning 3-1 against Luxembourg’s Jeunesse Esch to progress in the Europa League.

With Derry City and Sligo Rovers confirming their places in the second qualifying round earlier in the evening, Stephen Kenny’s side soon joined them and did so in comfortable fashion.

Three first half goals from Brian Gartland, Kurtis Byrne and John Mountney put the Louth men into a 5-0 aggregate lead with only a second half consolation staining an altogether smooth progression.

A brace from Richie Towell put Dundalk in the driving seat after last week’s first leg and with home advantage behind them, the Oriel faithful were hoping for a first home European victory since the last time opposition from Luxembourg came to town. Then, the Lilywhites scraped past Grevenmacher 5-4 on aggregate to progress.

This time was all the more comfortable, hardly surprising given the strength of this side to those of years gone by. Only eight minutes had passed when the home side hit the front. Ruaidhri Higgins, one of two changes from the first leg, sent in a free kick and it was met by defender Brian Gartland who headed past Marc Oberweis to extend the aggregate lead.

Perhaps as expected, the vistors didn’t have the ‘jeunesse sais quoi’ to pose Dundalk too many problems. Arguably the most surprising aspect of the second half was that it took the Airtricity League leaders so long to double their lead.

They did eventually and it again came from a Higgins delivery. On 36 minutes, his corner was met by David McMillan at the back post. It squirmed under Oberweis and was tapped in Kurtis Byrne.

Dane Massey and Ken Corral Dane Massey and Ken Corral of AS Jeunesse Esch. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO


Then, just as the clock ticked into first half stoppage time, it was three. McMillian showed superb control to take in Peter Cherrie’s punt. He turned it round the corner for Towell who in turn fed Mountney. After some deliberation, he fired his shot into the bottom corner to seal their Europa League progress.

As a spectacle, the second half was a damp squib. With a trip to Tallaght on Sunday looming, Stephen Kenny made all three changes – withdrawing key men in Byrne, Gartland and Daryl Horgan.

The Luxembourgers did get a consolation in the second half when centre back Jonathon Zydco finished past Cherrie, but by then the game and certainly the tie were gone for them.

A 5-1 aggregate win is Dundalk’s biggest ever in a European tie and while more illustrious opposition await, it will surely act as a boost as their league title charge resumes over the weekend. The watching Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy will have liked what he saw, namely perhaps the performance of in demand midfielder Richie Towell. Cue the rumour mill spinning into overdrive.

Dundalk face Hadjuk Split of Croatia in the second round.

DUNDALK: Peter Cherrie, Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland (Simon Kelly, 79), Dane Massey, Ruaidhri Higgins, Richie Towell, Daryl Horgan (Marc Griffin, 46), Kurtis Byrne (Patrick Hoban, 61), John Mountney, David McMillan.

Substitutes: Gabriel Sava, Mark Rossiter, Chris Shields, Darren Meenan.

JEUNESSE D’ESCH: Marc Oberweis, Marvin de Graca, Adrien Portier, Eric Hoffman, Alexandre Vitali, Kim Kintzinger, Johnathon Zydco (Denis Agovic, 78), Milos Todorovic (Ricardo Delgado, 46), Ken Corral (Mirko Albanese, 46), Sanel Ibrahimovic, Bryan Melisse.

Substitutes: Andrea Deidda, Nenad Dragovic, David De Sousa, Yannick Jorge.

REFEREE: Tsvetan Krastev (Bulgaria)

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