Defending Champions Dundalk progressed to the Quarter-Final of the Leinster Senior Cup at the expense of Shelbourne in tonight’s game at Tolka Park.
Goals in either half from Paddy Barrett and the very impressive Patrick McEleney gave the Lilywhites a comfortable 2-0 victory over their hosts.
Dundalk began brightly with McEleney running strongly at the Shelbourne defence before laying it off to John Mountney, whose left footed drive went straight at Greg Murray in the Shelbourne goal.
The home sides first attack saw Cian Kavanagh force a corner which Dundalk cleared comfortably.
Dundalk then began to take control of proceedings with Darren Meenan and McEleney in particular causing the back four of Shelbourne plenty of problems.
Neat play by George Poynton and McEleney saw the new signing attempt an audacious 35-yard strike which rose over Murray’s crossbar.
Dundalk kept pushing and had further efforts through McEleney before Paddy Barrett surged forward and fed Michael O’Connor, before subsequently laying it back to the defender who fired his shot wide.
A feature of Dundalk’s play was the long diagonal ball in behind the Shelbourne’s full backs. Meenan and Mountney were looking dangerous and you felt that the goal wouldn’t be long coming.
Shels did well to absorb all the pressure and they broke clear after Chris Shields lost the ball in midfield. The ball was fed, by Gareth Coughlan, through to Jamie Doyle who drove at Gannon and cut inside onto his right foot, but the full back did well to deflect his shot away for a corner.
From the resulting corner Shelbourne nearly took the lead as striker James English headed wide from Coughlan’s cross.
They’d rue that missed opportunity as Dundalk capitalised soon after. On the half hour O‘Connor was fouled by Coughlan who was booked by referee Rob Rogers. From the resulting free-kick Dundalk took the lead. Meenan’s cross was cleared back to the winger who found Paddy Barrett. Barrett turned and curled in a sublime goal over the head of the stranded Greg Murray from the left hand side of the box.
The goal was all the Lilywhites deserved as they had 12 shots on target in the opening quarter alone.
Shelbourne’s final attack of the first half came when Cian Kavanagh found the pacey Adam O’Connor with a nice ball in behind the defence but his cross was collected with ease by Gabriel Sava, as Dundalk went into half time with a slender, but thoroughly deserved one goal advantage.
The second half began with Dundalk in then ascendency again with the midfield trio of Chris Shields, McEleney and the impressive George Poynton finding space.
However, ten minutes into the second half the hosts nearly equalised against the run of play, as half time substitute Dylan Grimes was played through the middle of Dundalk’s defence, but he hesitated at the vital moment as Sava and Paddy Barrett closed in and his shot tamely nestled into the keeper’s hands.
Dundalk continued to press and Brian Gartland nearly extended the lead with one of his trade mark front post runs but his miss-hit shot was cleared away to safety by the Shels defence.
Dundalk introduced Daryl Horgan midway through the second half and he nearly made an immediate impact as his corner from the left was beautifully met by teenage striker O’Connor, who glanced the ball wide when he seemed destined to find the net.
Dundalk didn’t have to wait long to extend their lead though as McEleney found space in the box and slid the ball past Murray to give the dominant Lilywhites a two goal lead which was all their play merited.
Shelbourne substitute Mark Sandford shot over shortly after his introduction, but Dundalk continued to hold the lions share of possession and McEleney tried another effort that Murray gathered comfortably.
That was McEleney’s final contribution in a very promising competitive debut for the club as he was replaced by Ronan Finn for the final twenty minutes.
Dundalk had the nucleus of their title winning side on the pitch at this stage and it showed as Shelbourne began to tire. The Louth side kept the ball with ease with everything seeming to go through Shields in midfield.
Shelbourne to their credit though continued to give it their all as winger Jamie Doyle drove down the flanks at every opportunity.
Dundalk nearly extended their advantage with ten minutes left, Poynton’s quick corner found John Mountney and his cross was met by Finn whose delicate effort floated just over the crossbar.
The Lilywhites would have made it three only for Murray who made an excellent double save, firstly from Horgan following McMillan’s knock down and then from the striker himself.
Referee Rob Rogers blew the full-time whistle soon after as Dundalk advanced through to the Quarter-Final stage of the Leinster Senior Cup.
Shelbourne: Greg Murray; Adam O’Connor, Ryan Robinson, Robert O’Reilly, Dylan Kavanagh; Gareth Coughlan, Cian Kavanagh, Robert Duggan (Dylan Grimes 46), Dáire Doyle (Alan Kehoe 73), Jamie Doyle; James English (Mark Sandford 64).
Subs not used: Jack Brady, Carl Walshe, Conor Keeley, Darragh Gannon
Booked: Gareth Coughlan (31), Dylan Grimes (88)
Sent Off: None
Dundalk: Gabriel Sava; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Paddy Barrett, Shane Grimes; John Mountney, George Poynton, Chris Shields, Patrick McEleney (Ronan Finn 70), Darren Meenan (Daryl Horgan 62); Michael O’Connor (David McMillan 73).
Subs not used: Gary Rogers, Andy Boyle
Sent Off: None
Referee: Rob Rogers
Attendance: 150 (estimate)
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: Patrick McEleney (Dundalk).