Friday 27 January 2023 Dublin: 3°C
Morgan Treacy/INPHO Georgie Kelly bags the winner for the hosts.
# Nearly there
Dundalk three wins from title after late Kelly header sees off Cork City
The Lilywhites went 10 points clear with a 1-0 win at Oriel Park.

Dundalk 1

Cork City 0

Keith Wallace reports from Oriel Park

Georgie Kelly came off the bench to break Cork City’s resistance as Dundalk shot 10 points clear at the top of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division with a late 1-0 win over their old foes at Oriel Park on Friday night.

Dundalk were dominant but frustrated for much of the contest against the relegation-threated Leesiders, with Seán Gannon almost fortuitously creating the breakthrough on the half-hour but young goalkeeper Tadhg Ryan was allowed to collect.

Against a fully manned Cork defence, Patrick Hoban went close in the 75th minute. However, it was his strike partner, Kelly who scored just a minute after coming on as he connected with Gannon’s cross to leave Dundalk needing just three more wins to claim a fifth title in six years.

georgie-kelly-celebrates-scoring-a-goal-with-teammates Morgan Treacy / INPHO Kelly celebrates his goal. Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

New Cork boss Neale Fenn kept faith with the highly rated Ryan between the sticks, but there were three changes from Monday’s Munster derby defeat by Waterford. Colm Horgan, Ronan Hurley and Alec Byrne came in for Josh Honohan, Garry Buckley and Karl Sheppard.

Dundalk, too, had three fresh faces in their lineup following a 2-0 win in Sligo, with Dean Jarvis, Daniel Cleary and Robbie Benson introduced in place of Dane Massey, Seán Hoare and Daniel Kelly, the latter of whom had limped off late in the win in the West.

The league leaders controlled possession early on and in the eighth minute they had an opening after a neat exchange between Gannon and Jamie McGrath which landed at the feet of Hoban but he shot over from inside the box.

dundalk-fans Morgan Treacy / INPHO Dundalk supporters at Oriel Park. Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

On 23 minutes, a peculiar pass from Cleary – from the Cork box back into his own half – in fact led to an opening as Michael Duffy crossed for Benson but Ryan gathered.

On the half-hour mark, a Gannon cross almost deceived Ryan with the bounce on the artificial surface, but thankfully for the young stopper there was no Dundalk player on hand to take advantage.

Cork did come into the game towards the end of the first half with forward Mark O’Sullivan hassling the Dundalk defence but he lacked the quality to cause a serious threat.

Dundalk were presented with a good opportunity four minutes into the second half when Horgan was booked for taking McGrath down on the edge of the box. However, Patrick McEleney’s set-piece was straight into the wall.

patrick-mceleney-with-conor-mccarthy Morgan Treacy / INPHO McEleney takes on Conor McCarthy. Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

In the 61st minute, McEleney was denied by Ryan’s save, and moments later the Derryman’s strike took a deflection as the ball went behind for a corner.

With 15 minutes left on the clock, Hoban almost snuck one into the bottom corner but Ryan was alert in turning it around the post.

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Vinny Perth then introduced Georgie Kelly and it was the ever-reliable Donegal man who again popped up with a crucial goal. McEleney lofted a pass into the direction of Gannon on the right of the box and he squared it for Kelly to head in from close range.

georgie-kelly-scores-a-goal Morgan Treacy / INPHO Kelly nets the decisive goal. Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

In injury-time, Daniel Kelly and Duffy both went close to a second but Ryan’s stops mattered little to the result, with Dundalk now needing just three more wins to secure yet another league title.

DUNDALK FC: Gary Rogers; Seán Gannon, Daniel Cleary, Andy Boyle, Dean Jarvis; Chris Shields, Robbie Benson (Daniel Kelly 68); Jamie McGrath (Georgie Kelly 77), Patrick McEleney, Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban (c) (Cameron Dummigan 85).

CORK CITY: Tadhg Ryan; Colm Horgan, Conor McCarthy (c), Dan Casey, Ronan Hurley; Conor McCormack, Alec Byrne; Dáire O’Connor (Darragh Crowley 87), Mark O’Sullivan, Shane Griffin; Eoghan Stokes (Ben O’Brien-Whitmarsh 83).

Referee: Ben Connolly (Dublin)

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