Greg Bolger’s first goals for Dundalk set them on their way to the easiest of wins as they annihilated lowly Galway United 6-1 at Oriel Park on Friday evening, as the Lilywhites got back to winning ways and their opponents fell to a 15th straight defeat.
After a quiet start, Dundalk gradually took over and Bolger had them ahead on 20 minutes with a deflected effort, before he and Mark Quigley added two more on the stroke of half-time. After the break, the home side continued where they left off as Keith Ward and Mark Griffin had them 5-0 up by the 52nd minute. Gary Kelly got a consolation for Galway shortly after, but Dundalk found another on 71 minutes as substitute Johnny Breen finished from close range.
Dundalk manager Ian Foster had made one change to the side that drew with Shamrock Rovers on Tuesday night as Dean Bennett, who was struggling with an ankle injury, was replaced by Shane Guthrie. However, Colin Hawkins injured his hamstring in the warm-up, with Bennett coming into the side. After a one-minute silence for Dr. Paul McCarthy, who passed away earlier in the week, Galway got proceedings underway and attacked in the opening seconds.
Hesitation between goalkeeper Peter Cherrie and centre-half Guthrie allowed Galway forward Mikey Gilmore to nip in and get the ball, with the home number one appearing to take him out of it, although after a good look, referee Paul McLaughlin decided to play on. At the other end, nobody could get on the end of Ross Gaynor’s fine low delivery from the left. On seven minutes, Gaynor, from the other side, saw his low free-kick into the box met by Quigley but his effort, from a difficult position, went wide of the target.
Quigley then tried to find Griffin with clever through-ball but it was just too heavy for the youngster and the pass ran through to visiting ‘keeper Greg Fleming. Just past the quarter-hour mark, Daniel Kearns got a good cross in from the right with Quigley rising to head towards goal but the effort again went off its intended target.
On 17 minutes, Galway went close through taking the lead as Bobby Ryan cut in from the left and unleashed a fantastic 25-yard dipping shot which was heading into the net only for Cherrie to produce a fine save as he tipped over the crossbar. From the resulting corner, Dundalk broke with pace and Quigley, with men either side, took the shot on himself, this time finding the target but also the arms of Fleming. Moments later, Gaynor’s low cross into the six-yard box was deflected wide as Griffin slid in, in an attempt to guide the ball home. The lively Gaynor then caused more problems from a corner, Fleming and Galway eventually clearing their lines.
Shortly after, Quigley forced Fleming into a good save, the ‘keeper pushing a fierce 25-yard drive away. Dundalk eventually hit the front on 20 minutes, and again it came from an attack down the left. Gaynor played a pass into Quigley on the edge of the box and he turned sharply, laying the ball off to Bolger whose shot took a wicked deflection and looped over the visiting No1. It was all Dundalk after that, with Ward attempting to set up Griffin for a chance of a second, but the wind-assisted ball ran through to Fleming. Quigley tried to do the same with a flick but got the same result.
On 36 minutes, Galway could have got back on level terms as Alan Murphy got into the box and pulled it back to Eduardo Dusi, whose shot was gathered at the second attempt by Cherrie. Dundalk, however, as good as wrapped up the points within a minute right on the stroke of half-time. Bolger made a superb run into the box and Quigley picked him out with a superb ball over the top which bounced beautifully for the midfielder and he finished well over Fleming. Then Gaynor appeared to be fouled in the box but the ball came to Quigley who turned sharply and fired home.
After the break, Dundalk added two more. On 47 minutes, Ward broke into the box and clipped the ball over the outrushing Fleming and into the net from 15-yards, the 20-year-old finding his first league goal for the club. Five minutes later, it was 5-0. Bolger delivered a brilliant free-kick to the back and Griffin rose and headed wonderfully to the net from ten-yards. It was attack after attack for Dundalk but Galway pulled one back on 57 minutes as Gary Kelly fired in following a corner. Kearns and Simon Madden then combined on the right, the latter breaking into the box and pulling it back to Quigley whose shot was blocked by Fleming, with Bolger unable to find the net under pressure as he searched for his hat-trick. Dundalk, though, were further boosted on 61 minutes when Stephen Maher made his return after being out injured since 25 March.
Seconds later, Quigley tried his luck from range and the bouncing effort almost made its way to the top corner but Fleming tipped over. Breen almost got in on the act after good trickery gave him space for a shot from 20-yards but it was gathered by the ‘keeper. At the other end, Gilmore fired wide, before Dundalk should have got another.
Gaynor did well on the left and rounded the ‘keeper before setting up Maher 15-yards out but he totally miscued when well placed. The home side did make it 6-1 on 71 minutes when Quigley made the task simple for Breen, getting to the by-line and laying it on a plate for his teammate two-yards out. A moment later, Foster introduced Jason Byrne after a six-week layoff, which completed a brilliant night all-round for the Louth club.
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie, Simon Madden ©, Dean Bennett, Shane Guthrie, Nathan Murphy, Daniel Kearns, Greg Bolger, Keith Ward (Stephen Maher 61), Ross Gaynor, Mark Quigley (Jason Byrne 72), Mark Griffin (Johnny Breen 61).
Unused Subs: Paul Murphy (GK), Chris Kerr, Philip Duffy.
Galway United: Greg Fleming; Shaun Kelly (Rory Gartland 72), Eduardo Dusi, Stephen Walsh, Paul Sinnott ©; Gary Curran, Bobby Ryan (Ronan Caldwell 49), Gary Kelly, Alan Murphy, Karl Moore (Eric Holland 77); Mikey Gilmore.
Unused Subs: Conor Winn (GK).
Booked: S Kelly (52).
Referee: Paul McLaughlin (Monaghan).