Niall Newberry reports from Oriel Park
Dundalk are now just six wins away from mathematically clinching another SSE Airtricity League title after recording an easy 3-0 win over bottom-of-the-table UCD at Oriel Pak on Monday night.
A match that was anything but a classic, Vinny Perth and Dundalk won’t mind too much about that after two first half goals from Michael Duffy and a strike from Patrick Hoban sent them on their way.
Both sides progressed to the FAI Cup quarter-finals on Friday night with Dundalk dramatically knocking out Derry City after extra-time, while UCD rather surprisingly beat St Patrick’s Athletic.
The visitors were unchanged for this encounter, but Dundalk made five alterations with Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle, Dean Jarvis, Patrick McEleney and John Mountney all named in the team.
Dundalk took the lead inside three minutes and what a goal it was. Duffy picked up the ball on the left flank shortly before curling an effort past the helpless Gavin Sheridan from about 35 yards out.
That was the worst possible start for UCD and they could have fallen further behind when Daniel Kelly then curled an effort wide after what was some good interplay from Dean Jarvis and Hoban.
The Lilywhites doubled their advantage on 19 minutes when Hoban broke on the right before putting the ball on a plate for the inrushing Duffy to score his and Dundalk’s second of the night.
UCD goalkeeper Sheridan was having a difficult night at the office, but he did save well from Hoban’s header after Duffy had crossed from the left – both players linking up well once again for Dundalk.
UCD had their first chance through Jason McClelland, who turned his effort just wide of the post.
The hosts had another chance after some lovely play down the flank from substitute Daniel Kelly, who beat a couple of UCD defenders before crossing for Hoban, who just couldn’t find the target.
The SSE Airtricity League’s top scorer did find the target in the 38th minute and it was almost a carbon copy of the second goal. This time it was Duffy that broke on the left before putting the ball on a plate for Hoban, who made absolutely no mistake to score his 13th league goal of the season.
The second half was a dull affair to put it mildly and with their upcoming cluster of fixtures in mind, the Lilywhites took their foot off the pedal somewhat and were merely seeing this game out really.
It’s a win that puts Dundalk one step closer to what would be a fifth SSE Airtricity League title in six years and ensures that they will now go over a year without losing a league fixture at fortress Oriel.
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle, Dean Jarvis; Sean Hoare, Patrick McEleney; John Mountney (Daniel Kelly 7), Jamie McGrath (Sean Murray 62), Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban (Georgie Kelly 76).
Subs not used: Aaron McCarey, Cameron Dummigan, Daniel Cleary, Robbie Benson.
Booked: Andy Boyle (60), Sean Hoare (82).
UCD: Gavin Sheridan; Dan Tobin, Liam Scales, Luke Boore, Evan Farrell; Liam Kerrigan, Jack Keaney, Dara Keane (Aaron McGrath 83), Jason McClelland; Richie O’Farrell (Sam Byrne 72); Yousef Mahdy.
Subs not used: Tom Murphy, Dan Mullen, Isaac Akinsete, Harry McEvoy, James Daly.
Referee: Robert Hennessy.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Michael Duffy (Dundalk).