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Dublin: 22 °C Tuesday 23 July, 2019

Dundalk open up five-point gap at top of Premier Division with comfortable defeat of Finn Harps

Michael Duffy, John Mountney and Brian Gartland scored the goals for the league leaders.

Dundalk’s John Mountney celebrates scoring their second goal.
Dundalk’s John Mountney celebrates scoring their second goal.
Image: Ciaran Culligan/INPHO

Finn Harps 0

Dundalk 3

Keith Wallace reports from Finn Park

DUNDALK POWERED FIVE points clear at the top of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division table, as they took full advantage of Shamrock Rovers’ result by beating lowly Finn Harps 3-0 at Finn Park on Saturday night.

The reigning champions began brightly and they eventually seized control of the game after the half-hour when Michael Duffy was left in acres of space and he headed John Mountney’s cross to the bottom corner.

That lead was doubled before half-time when Mountney got on the score-sheet for the third game running in all competitions, as he made the most of Patrick McEleney’s delicious delivery.

In the second half, Duffy almost grabbed his second but his diving header was denied.

However, it was 3-0 after the hour-mark when Jordan Flores’ corner was met by Brian Gartland’s towering header, as they went into their extended midseason break on a high with an 11th win in their last 12 league games.

Dundalk head coach Vinny Perth had made two changes to the team that eased past Sligo Rovers last week, as Gartland and Dane Massey returned to the defence in place of Seán Hoare and Dean Jarvis.

Harps, meanwhile, had four fresh faces in their starting XI, following the 5-3 defeat by Bohemians at Dalymount Park. Goalkeeper Mark Anthony McGinley, Mark Russell, Mark Coyle and Liam Walsh all came in, replacing Peter Burke, Tony McNamee and suspended pair Caolán McAleer and Seán Boyd.

The hosts hardly left their half in the opening quarter-hour, but they then threatened from a set-piece. A decent Russell free-kick was met in the box by Daniel O’Reilly, with Gartland forced to head the ball behind from close to his own goal.

On 25 minutes, Dundalk launched a quick counterattack from a Harps corner. While Duffy was initially stopped in his tracks, they regained possession and the winger’s cross was met by Patrick Hoban in the centre but he could only direct his header straight at McGinley.

That was comfortable for the goalkeeper, but he stood no chance on 32 minutes as Dundalk hit the front. Mountney raced down the right and his pinpoint cross was met by a clinical header from the unmarked Duffy, whose determination to join another swift attack paid off.

Russell fired narrowly over for Harps with a fine effort on 41 minutes, but they soon trailed 2-0. From the left, McEleney floated in a delicate cross which was powered to the net by Mountney, who made it five goals in three games.

After the break, O’Reilly struck a long-range free-kick down the throat of Gary Rogers, before Coyle warmed the palms of the goalkeeper with a stinging shot that was pushed around the post.

On 58 minutes, the game was almost put beyond any doubt when Seán Gannon’s deep cross was met by Duffy’s diving header, but McGinley produced a good save.

However, it was 3-0 shortly after when Gartland rose to meet Flores’ corner and he planted the ball in the net.

On 67 minutes, Harps almost responded when Jacob Borg’s 25-yard strike took a couple of deflections and forced Rogers into a smart stop as he turned the ball behind.

It should have been 3-1 four minutes later when Russell found Mikey Place on the right of the box but he failed to find the target from 12-yards.

On 83 minutes, Harps had yet another opportunity for a consolation when O’Reilly’s strike was tipped over by Rogers, who did well to seal another clean-sheet.

Dundalk struck the woodwork deep in injury-time through substitute Georgie Kelly’s header, in the last action of the match.

The champions are now out of action until 28 June when they take on second-placed Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium.

FINN HARPS FC: Mark Anthony McGinley, Jacob Borg, Daniel O’Reilly, Keith Cowan (c), Niall Logue (Gareth Harkin 71), Mark Russell, Mark Coyle, Sam Todd, Liam Walsh (Mark Timlin 59), Mikey Place, Raffaele Cretaro (Nathan Boyle 62).

DUNDALK FC: Gary Rogers, Seán Gannon, Brian Gartland (c), Daniel Cleary, Dane Massey, Chris Shields (Dylan Hand 88), Jordan Flores, John Mountney (Daniel Kelly 75), Patrick McEleney, Michael Duffy (Georgie Kelly 66), Patrick Hoban.

Referee: Damien McGraith (Mayo).

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About the author:

Keith Wallace

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