The Dundalk players celebrating Horgan's opener. Tommy Grealy/INPHO

Late heroics from Rogers needed as rusty Dundalk hold out for 3 points

Daryl Horgan scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 victory over Longford Town at Oriel Park.

Dundalk 1

Longford Town 0

DUNDALK BEGAN THEIR title defence with a scrappy 1-0 win at Oriel Park tonight.

A crowd of 3,336 showed up as the Premier Division champions welcomed newly-promoted Longford Town, who returned to the top flight for the first time in seven years.

Several missed opportunities meant Daryl Horgan’s first half goal decided the game but Gary Rogers was called upon to prevent Gary Shaw from snatching an unlikely draw in injury time.

It was the visitors who registered the first shot on target with a wayward cross from full-back Conor Powell, which Rogers collected just under his bar.

Another Powell delivery three minutes later picked out Kevin O’Connor but he couldn’t make sufficient contact.

Dundalk’s recent arrival Ronan Finn showed several clever touches during the opening exchanges and it was his run that set up the first goal on 16 minutes. Finn broke away down the right and sent an inviting ball across the six-yard box, where Daryl Horgan had the easiest of finishes.

The visitors were forced to change their goalkeeper just after the half hour-mark as first choice stopper Paul Hunt fell awkwardly after colliding with David McMillan and made way for Paul Skinner.

Former Shamrock Rovers midfielder Stephen Rice caught Chris Shields late to earn himself the first booking of the evening.  From the resulting free-kick, Dane Massey’s late run from deep was picked out but the full-back headed into the sidenetting in the last action of the half.

John Mountney is shown a yellow card after clashing with Martin Deady Dundalk's John Mountney is shown a yellow card after clashing with Martin Deady of Longford. Tommy Grealy / INPHO Tommy Grealy / INPHO / INPHO

Dundalk looked to double their advantage early in the second half and McMillan came close before skipper Andy Boyle saw his header crash off the crossbar.

Tony Cousins sent on David O’Sullivan in search of an equaliser but it was Dundalk who should have added to their lead. Gartland’s effort was cleared off the line by Pat Flynn and Skinner had to be at his best to save from Towell.

Longford did finally create a couple of clear-cut chances  but Rogers pulled off two great stops, from O’Sullivan and Shaw, during a nervy finale.

DUNDALK: Gary Rogers, Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle (c), Dane Massey, Chris Shields, John Mountney, Daryl Horgan, Richie Towell, Ronan Finn (Paddy Barrett, 90), David McMillan (Kurtis Byrne, 76).

LONGFORD TOWN: Paul Hunt (Paul Skinner, 31), Pat Sullivan, Pat Flynn, William Tyrell, Conor Powell, Lorcan Shannon (David O’Sullivan, 60), Kevin O’Connor, Stephen Rice, Mark Salmon (c), Martin Deady (Aymen Ben Mohamed, 72), Gary Shaw.

Man-of-the-match: Gary Rogers.

Referee: Neil Doyle.

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