A brace from Gary Shanahan helped Dundalk advance to quarter-finals of the EA Sports Cup at the expense of First Division leaders Longford Town.
In recent years the majority of league managers use this competition to give fringe players the opportunity to impress. For this game Town made six changes from the side that defeated Limerick 2-1 in the league last Friday night while Dundalk made five changes from the side that drew 0-0 with Shelbourne.
Town took the game to Dundalk right from the start and two minutes in had their first effort on goal; Michael Lee’s corner from the right had to be punched away by Dundalk netminder Ger Hanley.
One minute later the home side broke the deadlock; Michael Lee’s long throw-in was cleared but only just to the feet of Sean Skelly and he blasted the ball past Hanley from just outside the box.
Although the home side settled well Dundalk still looked dangerous on the break and in the 14th minute Shanahan had a chance to level matters but his low drive just went inches wide after picking up Chris Shields’ flick-on.
Eight minutes later the young striker found the back of the net; Town keeper Paul Hunt came rushing off his line to make a good save from Michael Rafter, the loose ball fell to Shanahan and he was able to shoot into an empty net.
The Town enjoyed the majority of possession in the first half and played some lovely football but couldn’t muster up many clear-cut chances. Karl Bermingham should’ve restored their lead in the 26th minute but his shot just went agonisingly wide.
Graham Dowling headed over Alan Kirby’s left-wing free in the 29th minute, while Skelly’s free from about 25 yards out sailed over the bar.
Town were left to rue not creating much during the dominant spell because after the break Dundalk were a different proposition. Eight minutes into the second half they took the lead; Steven McDonnell laid the ball off to Shanahan and he made no mistake.
The goal gave the visitors the momentum and they began to get on top in the game. After a very good first-half the Town struggled to gain
possession and it was the visitors who looked most likely to get another goal. Luke Danville came close to extending their lead in the 71st minute but his powerful header came crashing off the crossbar.
In the last few minutes as the clock ticked down the Town began to come back into the game and pressed hard for an equaliser. Substitute Gary Shaw forced Hanley into making two fine saves and right at the end Mark Salmon had a chance but he hit the side netting.
Longford Town: Paul Hunt; Graham Dowling, Des Hope (Mark Salmon 55), Chris Deans, Gary Cronin; Sean Skelly, Alan Kirby, Colm James, Michael Lee (Jack Morley 79); Karl Bermingham, Daniel Purdy (Gary Shaw 67).
Subs not used: Thomas Crawley, Craig Walsh, Noel Haverty, Craig Hyland.
Yellow card: Sean Skelly (70).
Dundalk: Ger Hanley; Cian Burke, Liam Burns, Luke Danville, Dan Cunningham; Robert Waters, Chris Shields , Steven McDonnell, John Mountney (Peter Thomas 81); Gary Shanahan (Shane O’Neill 79), Michael Rafter (Chris Reilly 59).
Subs not used: Peter Cherrie, Gareth Coughlan, Eoghan Osbourne, Paul Walsh.
Yellow card: Chris Shields (58).
Referee: Richie Winter.
Attendance: 300 (estimate)
Extratime.ie man of the match: Steven McDonnell (Dundalk).