Pat Hoban’s fifth league goal of the season gave Dundalk a narrow 1-0 victory over Drogheda United in a thrilling, and controversial, Louth derby at Hunky Dory Park on Monday evening.
The former Mervue United man struck 15 minutes from time to hand the Lilywhites the victory and both he and Dundalk could have had a second but the linesman disallowed.
The hosts made two changes from the side which defeated Bohemians 3-0 in the FAI Cup last weekend with Michael Schlingermann replacing Gabriel Sava as he was ruled out through suspension and Brian Gannon came into the side for former Lilywhite Stephen Quigley.
For Dundalk, there were four alterations. Chris Shields, John Dillon and Stephen McDonnell came into the starting XI for John Sullivan, Stephen O’Donnell and Darren Meenan were all serving suspensions while Keith Ward filled in for Kurtis Byrne who dropped to the bench.
Drogheda United started the brighter and they were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the Dundalk box after just three minutes but ex-Dundalk striker, Peter Hynes fired well wide of the post.
Another former Lilywhite, Declan O’Brien, shot inches past the Dundalk goal with a wonderful first-time effort from the 18 yard line. Seconds later, Dundalk’s Patrick Hoban hit an angled drive wide of the post from a difficult position.
Ryan Brennan then had a shot from the edge of the box but he got it horribly wrong and it went miles over the crossbar. Richie Towell had two long range efforts for the visitors but the both missed target. Those efforts capped a lively opening 20 minutes in the second Louth derby of the season.
Towell’s shot following good build up was deflected just wide before a dangerous Drogheda United attack was easily cleared by the Dundalk defence following some good work by Hynes.
Dundalk almost opened the scoring when a good break from Richie Towell found Stephen McDonnell and he in turn crossed for Hoban but his header, under pressure from Alan McNally, went just wide of Michael Schlingermann’s right hand post.
At the other end, Peter Cherrie was at full strength to brilliantly deny O’Brien who shot on the turn but was matched by the Scotsman. Dundalk hit on the counter attack through Ward but when in acres of space, he drilled the ball across goal and it was easily cleared.
Just before the break, the Lilywhites had the ball in the net following some good link up between two former Mervue United men. A throw-in on the right from Mark Rossiter found Mountney and he battled for possession with Alan Byrne before squaring it for Hoban.
The striker got the slightest of touches in front of Schlingermann to score. Or so we thought. The linesman cut short Dundalk’s celebrations as he deemed that the ball had crossed the end line with Mountney.
The sides went in scoreless in a fairly even game and immediately after the break, Drogheda United went on the attack and Chris Shields blocks brilliantly from Hynes just inside the box.
The visitors began to get a firmer hold in the game and pressed well just after the hour. Dillon had a shot go over the bar from distance before he turned provider for Stephen McDonnell but his shot was blocked. McDonnell then had another effort moments later from just inside the box but it went just wide of Schlingermann’s goal.
The Boynesiders had a glorious chance to take the lead. A failed clearance from Shields was headed on by O’Brien into the path of substitute Gary O’Neill and he attempted a wonderful bicycle kick which seemed destined for the top corner but somehow Cherrie in the Dundalk goal produced an unbelievable save to keep the tie scoreless.
That save proved to be crucial as the Lilywhites grabbed the lead with just over 15 minutes left on the clock. McDonnell disposed Brian Gannon in midfield and charged towards goal. He played it to the impressive Hoban and the former Bristol City star turned inside beautifully before coolly slotting past Schlingermann to give Dundalk a priceless lead.
The visitors almost doubled their lead with 10 minutes remaining when Towell’s shot from distance was on target but straight at the goalkeeper.
The Lilywhites were forced to see out the final seven minutes of the game with 10 men when Mountney was booked for a second time when referee Alan Kelly adjudged the midfielder dived inside the box.
Towell had a free-kick blocked from the edge of the area as Drogheda struggled to make use of the extra man. As the game drew to a close, the home side pressed for an equaliser but the expected onslaught never materialised and the Lilywhites held out for their first victory over their neighbours in five attempts and first in Hunky Dory Park since April 2011!
DROGHEDA UNITED: Michael Schlingermann; Brian Gannon, Alan McNally, Alan Byrne, Shane Grimes; Cathal Brady, Paul O’Conor, Ryan Brennan, Jason Marks(Gavin Brennan 61); Peter Hynes(Gary O’Neill 61), Declan O’Brien©
Subs not used: Philip Hand, Graham Rusk, Dean Gaynor, Michael Daly, Evin Farrell(GK).
Booked: Byrne(58), McNally (86)
DUNDALK: Peter Cherrie; Mark Rossiter, Chris Shields, Andy Boyle, Dane Massey; Richie Towell, Stephen McDonnell; John Mountney, Keith Ward(Tiarnan Mulvenna 55), John Dillon(Eoghan Osborne 86); Patrick Hoban(Vinny Faherty 89).
Subs not used: Kurtis Byrne, Ciaran O’Connor, John McKeown, Aaron Shanahan(GK)
Booked: Mountney(45+1), Hoban(54)
Sent off: Mountney(83)
Referee: Alan Kelly
Extratime.ie man of the match: Pat Hoban (Dundalk) – outstanding all evening and took his goal(and the disallowed one!) superbly.