Dundalk began their preparations for the new season with a 5-1 home win over neighbours Drogheda United to lift the Jim Malone Cup for the fourth time in a row on Friday night.
A first half hat-trick from Georgie Kelly coupled with a Michael Duffy brace saw Dundalk annihilate Drogheda, who haven’t won the pre-season competition between Louth’s top two clubs since 2014.
Dundalk were without former Wigan Athletic midfielder Jordan Flores, who had earlier in the day penned a two-year contract with the Oriel Park club after completing his medical on Thursday.
However, one notable name in the starting XI for the Lilywhites was that of Sean Murray – a midfielder best remembered for his time at Watford and most recently of Vejle BK in Denmark.
Ruthless in attack, this was really nothing more than a training exercise for the last year’s double winners, who took the lead after just seven minutes through Georgie Kelly’s tap in from close range.
Murray was then at the centre of Dundalk’s second just two minutes later, showing some of that quality which saw him make 85 appearances for Watford as he crossed for Duffy who easily finished.
Vinny Perth’s side tripled their advantage not long after that when Duffy’s corner from the left was guided home by Georgie Kelly, who will be hoping to make an impact in what is to be his first full season at Oriel.
The former UCD frontman completed his hat-trick when firing past Paul Skinner after latching onto a pass from trialist Murray, who’s excellent showing done his chances of earning a contract no harm whatsoever.
Duffy then got his second and Dundalk’s fifth despite the fact that only 30 minutes had elapsed, finishing brilliantly past Skinner after the outstanding Georgie Kelly had played a delightful ball to him.
Now a damage limitation exercise, Drogheda reverted to five at the back for the second period but it was one of those defenders, Luke Gallagher, that scored a consolation from a corner on 51 minutes.
New signing from Bohemians, Daniel Kelly made his introduction just before the hour mark and he combined brilliantly with namesake Georgie Kelly, who subsequently looped the ball just over the crossbar.
The game petered out after that as Dundalk couldn’t add any more goals in front of what was a decent turnout at Oriel with the new management team no doubt impressed at what they witnessed.
The Lilywhites will now continue their pre-season preparations with a trip to Spain, where they will come up against LASK Linz – a team currently second in the Austrian Bundesliga – on Tuesday afternoon.
Dundalk: Gary Rogers (Aaron McCarey 46); Sean Gannon, Daniel Cleary, Sean Hoare (Stephen Folan 46), Dean Jarvis (Dane Massey 46); Sean Murray, Chris Shields (Dylan Hand 80); John Mountney (Daniel Kelly 56), Patrick McEleney (Lido Lotefa 76), Michael Duffy (Luke Gorham 87); Georgie Kelly (Patrick Hoban 68).
Subs not used: Ross Treacy, James Carroll.
Yellow Cards: None.
Drogheda United: Paul Skinner; James Brown, Luke Gallagher, Kevin Farragher, Conor Kane; Adam Wixted (Janabi Amour 69), Sean Brennan (Luke McNally 46), Mark Hughes (Luke Heeney 78), Mark Doyle; Thomas Byrne (Cian Kavanagh 59); Chris Lyons.
Subs not used: Luca Gratzer, Stephen Meaney, Sean Trimble.
Yellow Cards: None.
Referee: Colin Halligan.
Attendance: 750 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Sean Murray (Dundalk).