Daryl Horgan opened the scoring for Dundalk (file photo). Morgan Treacy/INPHO
wing and a prayer

Former Ireland international Horgan helps keep Dundalk Euro hopes alive

Winger scored opening goal on another disappointing night for Sligo Rovers.

Sligo Rovers 0

Dundalk 2

DUNDALK KEPT THEIR hopes of finishing in the European places alive with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Sligo Rovers at The Showgrounds.

The Lilywhites are now just two points off fifth and three points off fourth, as Bohemians were beaten by St Patrick’s Athletic.

Despite the heavy rain, this was one of three Premier Division fixtures that got the go ahead, with two games falling victim to the atrocious weather conditions.

For the hosts, a poor season means survival is the main aim.

And John Russell’s men were nine points ahead of Cork City, who occupy the relegation play-off spot, coming into tonight’s game.

Youngster Conor Walsh returned in goals, with veteran Richard Brush preferred for the last three outings for the Bit O’Red.

With all bar two players back from injury, Russell was able to name a strong squad, a rarity this season.

The visitors Dundalk had lost four of their last six league games, with their hopes of a top four finish fading slightly after that defeat to Shelbourne on their last day out.

Still, though, the Lilywhites were not out of the race for a European spot just yet, as they were four points behind Shels coming into tonight’s game.

The visitors started well, with Gibraltar international Louie Annesley getting on the end of Daryl Horgan’s corner on six minutes, only for his effort to be deflected wide.

Good footwork from Robbie Benson helped him get away from Garry Buckley, but he couldn’t keep his effort down. Although Fabrice Hartmann had a half chance for the home side, it was certainly the visitors who looked most likely to score.

And Stephen O’Donnell’s side broke the deadlock on 19 minutes.

Cameron Elliot created great space on the right and squared it for Horgan who tucked the shot under Walsh, scoring against his former club.

Horgan came close again moments later, while a fine stop from Walsh denied Benson, the midfielder was forced off through injury shortly afterwards.

A last ditch block from Greg Sloggett ensured Niall Morahan didn’t make it 1-1 after Archie Davies had headed the ball across his own box. A great save from Shepperd just before half-time after good work from Martelo ensured the visitors went into break leading.

Dundalk were pushing for a second after the restart, with Ryan O’Kane and Senan Mullen testing the Rovers rearguard. The home side’s task got tougher just before the hour mark when they were reduced to 10.

Midfielder Robbie Burton picked up two yellows in a matter of seconds; his first for a challenge on Conor Malley and his second for his reaction to the first. Dundalk were well in control, but could not find that all important second goal to make sure of the win, and allowed the hosts get back into the game despite being down to 10.

A fantastic through ball from substitute Kailin Barlow found another sub in Johan Brannefalk.

Shepperd was alert, though, and made the save to keep his side ahead.

Despite the slight revival from Sligo, Dundalk added a second with two minutes to go through sub Sam Durrant who tucked it in from close range.

O’Donnell’s side are still in the hunt for Europe, and will need things to go their way but it is not beyond the realms of possibility.

Sligo Rovers: Conor Walsh, Niall Morahan, Garry Buckley (Kailin Barlow, 60), John Mahon, Reece Hutchinson (Will Fitzgerald, 60), Karl O’Sullivan, David Cawley (Nando Pijnaker, 60), Greg Bolger, Robbie Burton, Fabrice Hartmann (Johan Brannefalk, 66), Pedro Martelo (Frank Liivak, 66).

Dundalk: Nathan Shepperd, Archie Davies, Andy Boyle, Louie Annesley, Hayden Muller, Ryan O’Kane (Sam Durrant, 82), Robbie Benson (Conor Malley, 40), Greg Sloggett, Senan Mullen (Paul Doyle, 85), Daryl Horgan (Daniel Kelly, 71), Cameron Elliot (Patrick Hoban, 85).

Referee: Paul McLaughlin

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