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Duffy continues brilliant form as league leaders Dundalk extend advantage to six points

Dundalk extended their lead at the top of the SSE Airtricity League to six points on Friday away to Limerick.

Michael Duffy celebrates.
Michael Duffy celebrates.
Image: Ciaran Culligan/INPHO

Limerick 0

Dundalk 1

Andrew Cunneen reports from the Markets Field

MICHAEL DUFFY MADE the headlines once more as his late strike extended Dundalk’s lead at the summit of the Premier Division table.

The visitors huffed and puffed for 80 minutes but could not find a way through an excellently-organised Limerick until the tricky winger struck home with nine minutes remaining.

Dundalk’s surprise defeat to Shamrock Rovers midweek brought about three changes for this clash on Shannonside.

Dane Massey and Patrick McEleney were replaced by Dean Jarvis and Dylan Connolly, while Dan Cleary took Sean Hoare’s place in XI after the young defender became the Lilywhites’ first sending-off of the season midweek against the Hoops.

Limerick’s back four of Darren Murphy, Killian Brouder, Colman Kennedy and Shane Tracy had never played together prior to this clash, which is far from ideal when facing a side chasing a goalscoring record.

The table-toppers had not followed up a home league defeat with an away league defeat since September 2012. That was in the middle of an 18-game winless run in which they shipped 41 goals. Dundalk have conceded just 39 goals in their last 62 league games, as a contrast.

While the home side have very little to play for as they’re surely all but cemented in ninth spot, that awareness handed them a level of freedom in the first half and Dundalk’s half-paced efforts at breaking them down just didn’t cut it.

Stephen Kenny celebrates after the game Lilywhites boss Stephen Kenny. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Shane Duggan and Connor Ellis were standouts in the opening 45. Ellis, who took up the duty of playing as the lone striker against Dundalk, excelled in the typically daunting role. He held play up, tracked back and played in his team-mate Will Fitzgerald to craft a couple of half-chances.

Half-chances were the story of the first half, too. By the time Rob Rogers had blown his whistle for the break, neither Dundalk nor Limerick had a whole pile in the way of clear-cut opportunities.

But the hosts had more of them, as Will Fitzgerald and Cian Coleman both tested Gary Rogers between the Dundalk sticks. The only time Tommy Holland had to break a sweat was a Pat Hoban header a couple of minutes prior to the interval after a clever cross from Dylan Connolly.

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Ronan Murray was introduced at half-time but Connor Ellis came closest in the opening 20 minutes of the second period when his thunderbolt whistled over Gary Rogers’ crossbar.

Dundalk had scored in 16 straight league games, but they were struggling for an answer.

That answer would eventually be found nine minutes from time when Martin O’Neill target Duffy was on hand to win a second ball inside the Limerick area to fire home past Tommy Holland.

He ran away in celebration and almost immediately afterwards, the visiting fans were sent into raptures as the news of Raffaele Cretaro’s goal found its way to Limerick.

LIMERICK: Tommy Holland; Darren Murphy, Killian Brouder, Colman Kennedy, Shane Tracy; Cian Coleman, Shane Duggan; Karl O’Sullivan, Barry Maguire, Will Fitzgerald (Billy Dennehy, 79); Connor Ellis (Danny Morrissey, 75).

DUNDALK: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Daniel Cleary, Brian Gartland, Dean Jarvis; Chris Shields, Robbie Benson (Patrick McEleney, 77); Dylan Connolly (Ronan Murray, 46), Jamie McGrath (John Mountney, 67), Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban.

Referee: Rob Rogers.

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About the author:

Andrew Cunneen

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