Dundalk made it two from two at the Brandywell in the SSE Airtricity Premier Division on Friday night. It was a neat finish from Dane Massey that settled the scoreline on the night.
Derry had a couple of good periods of play and gave a valiant effort but never really sustained any solid pressure on the Dundalk back line.
The game began lighting quick and considerably scrappy with some early season rust showing. It was Dundalk who had the first notable chance on 11 minutes, Daryl Horgan took aim and had a shot from range, it deflected off a defender and fell to Richard Towell just inside the box, his shot was too deflected and it looped over a helpless Gerard Doherty in the Derry goal but hit the post. The linesman flagged for offside so all potential danger for the hosts was averted.
The game entered a rather subdued period but was brought into life again after 28 minutes when Dundalk were unlucky not to have the opener. A poor clearance from Derry keeper, Doherty fell to Mountney who found McMillan leaving the striker one-on-one with the keeper. But the Derry shot-stopper did well to recover from his earlier mistake to get rid of the danger, McMillan just couldn't set himself quick enough to take the shot.
After 38 minutes, Shane McEleney nearly scored at the wrong end when he rose to clear a seemingly harmless long ball. However he connected poorly diverting it goal-wards, luckily for the defender, it bounced just wide.
Derry started the second half very well and had their first chance after just one minute of play. Hutton’s side put some nice passes together and eventually worked it around to an idle Patrick McEleney. His shot did find the target but unfortunately for the play-maker, it was a high and wide effort.
Derry went close again quite soon after through Philip Lowry. Shaun Kelly found himself out the right with some space, he crossed the ball into the box towards Lowry on the penalty spot but his shot was high.
As the clock ticked towards the hour mark Mark Timlin got in behind the champions' defence but Rodgers was quick off his line to gather the ball at Timlin's feet, it was arguably Derry's best opportunity to equalise.
The opening did eventually come when a ball forward landed at the feet of Ronan Finn not far from the 18-yard line, he spotted Dane Massey on the edge of the box and threaded the pass into the defender's feet who kept his cool and finished sweetly into Doherty's bottom left corner. A finish any striker would be proud of.
Following the goal, Derry seemed to be rattled and Dundalk assumed the ascendancy. The hosts gave a valiant effort in the remaining minutes but didn't have any clear chances of bringing the score level. The visitors dominated the remainder and were happy to see out the clock. The referee sounded the final whistle bringing a rather enjoyable tie to a close.
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Shaun Kelly (George Kelly, 88), Ryan McBride, Shane McEleney, Aaron Barry; Mark Timlin (Joshua Daniels, 77), Philip Lowry, Barry McNamee, Sean Houston; Patrick McEleney; Ryan Curran.
Subs Not Used: Shaun Patton (gk), Dean Jarvis, Ronan Curtis, Patrick McClean, Seamus Sharkey.
Bookings: Kelly (37)
Dundalk: Gary Rodgers; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle, Dane Massey; Chris Shields; John Mountney (Shane Grimes, 89), Richard Towell, Ronan Finn, Daryl Horgan (Darren Meenan, 61); David McMillan (Kurtis Byrne, 76).
Subs Not Used: Gabriel Sava (gk), Ciaran O'Connor, Jake Kelly, Shane Grimes, Paddy Barrett.
Bookings: Shields (90+2)
Referee: Paul Tuite
Attendance: 3,000 (estimate)
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Ronan Finn (Dundalk)