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Stephen Kenny enjoys his Rovers return as Dundalk go top again

Pat Hoban’s goal settled this afternoon’s clash in Tallaght Stadium.

Hoban and Kurtis Byrne celebrate the goal that sent Dundalk back to the top of the league.
Hoban and Kurtis Byrne celebrate the goal that sent Dundalk back to the top of the league.
Image: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

Shamrock Rovers 0-1 Dundalk

DUNDALK RETURNED TO the top of the Airtricity League table this afternoon with Patrick Hoban’s second-half goal proving to be the difference in Tallaght Stadium.

With Cork City winning on Friday night, Stephen Kenny knew a win was crucial if the Lilywhites were to maintain their title challenge.

And they proved too strong for a lacklustre Rovers side who produced very little in front of goal.

The Hoops made just two changes to the team that overcame champions St Patrick’s Athletic last week. Ryan Brennan replaced the suspended Stephen McPhail and David O’Connor came in at left-back for Rob Cornwall.

For Dundalk, there were just three changes to the team that played in Thursday night’s Europa League first round qualifier Chris Shields, Patrick Hoban and Darren Meenan all came back into the team.

Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

With that game having taken place less than 72 hours before this one kicked off, some may have been forgiven for thinking Stephen Kenny’s men would be a little fatigued.

However, they showed more energy than their opponents throughout, and created the first real opening after 10 minutes when Dane Massey forced Barry Murphy into a save from a header.

Massey sent a dangerous ball in from the left soon after that, and although it crept in behind the Rovers defence, Kurtis Byrne was unable to connect at the back post

A quick free-kick from Shane Robinson then allowed Gary McCabe to advance on the Dundalk goal after half an hour, but Shields was alert to cover and clear his lines.

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Simon Madden, who has played all but one league game for Rovers this season, then drifted in from the right and made Peter Cherrie produce his first save of the game.

And the visiting goalkeeper had to be quick off his line a minute later when Eamon Zayed broke for the Dundalk goal.

As the opening half came to a close Dundalk upped the tempo somewhat, and a mix up in the Rovers defence allowed Byrne to shoot, but Jason McGuinness blocked his effort.

And right on the stroke of half-time Richie Towell tested Murphy with an effort that had the home crowd holding their breath.

In the second half Donal McDermott was introduced for his Dundalk debut, and the former Man City youth player was celebrating with his new team-mates minutes later.

Byrne gathered the ball in midfield, and having played a neat one-two with Meenan, he drove to the line and found Hoban at the back post.

Trevor Croly had already replaced the in-form Gary McCabe with Sean O’Connor before the goal, and both Ciaran Kilduff and Robert Bayly were also introduced as the half wore on, but they struggled to make any impact.

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Murphy, D O’Connor, Kenna (c), McGuinness, Madden, Brennan (Brennan 79), Robinson, Finn, McCabe (S O’Connor 63), Zayed, Kelly (Kilduff 71). Substitutes: Hyland, Osam, Byrne, Bayly, Kilduff, S O’Connor, Waters.

DUNDALK: Cherrie, Gannon, Gartland, Boyle (c), Shields, Horgan (McDermott 58), Hoban, Byrne (Higgins 83), Massey, Towell, Meenan (Mountney 90). Substitutes: Sava, Mountney, Higgins, Griffin, Rossiter, Kelly, McDermott.

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