A red card, six goals; this had the markings of a white-hot derby game. But the most noticeable feature of this match was the gulf in class between the two Louth clubs. Dundalk ran out 6-0 winners in Oriel Park against a Drogheda side that were never at the races.
Richie Towell chipped in with four goals in the second half to ensure Drogheda were put to the sword as a slaughter of Cromwellian cruelty took place on the Carrick Road.
The game began promisingly with Dundalk customarily pressing their opposition high up. Before the clock had even reached double figures, Dundalk had a headed effort from Dane Massey and a Ronan Finn shot from the edge of the area sail over the bar. A signal of intent.
The Drogheda defence was regimented and although they didn’t offer much going forward, the testudo-like organisation of their players when they hadn’t possession – which was often- was commendable.
The Drogs only glimmer of hope lay in set pieces. Jason Marks almost struck first for Drogheda when he rose above the commanding figures of Brian Gartland and Andy Boyle go get on the end of a Joe Gorman cross. However, in the very next move they would be behind.
The Lilywhites managed to find a chink in the Boynesider’s defences on the cusp of the half hour though. Richie Towell twisted and turned in the opposition box, shadowed all the while, but he passed low to find the incoming Daryl Horgan who rifled home into the bottom right of the net.
The first half fell into a bit of a lull and a decidedly un-derby-like training pace sank in but the second half was action packed:. Drogheda came out bright and attempted to outmuscle Dundalk, deploying aerial balls from deep. Their grip on the game lasted all of four minutes before Dundalk broke furiously and doubled their advantage.
Towell steamed down the middle, and it looked as if he made the wrong call playing it left for Horgan when McMillian looked poised to split the Drogheda defence. He redeemed himself by cannoning home Horgan’s return pass from the edge of the area.
A reckless tackle from Jason Marks on Sean Gannon saw him get his marching orders on 55 minutes. From there on the Lilywhites were in cruise control, their well-orchestrated passing leisurely lacerating their limp opposition. The floodgates opened up and they found the net four more times before the game was out.
Schlingermann fouled McMillian on 58 minutes, as the Dundalk striker raced to collect a ball on the edge of the box. The ‘keeper’s outstretched arms tripped McMillian, but they were nowhere near Richie Towell’s inch perfect penalty into the bottom corner of the goal.
The industrious McMillian got himself on the scoresheet and showed his killer instinct with an acrobatic volley to pounce on Gartland’s blocked header free-kick to make it four. Richie Towell secured a second half hat-trick when he struck home with fourteen minutes remaining.
Drogheda’s goal led a charmed life in the closing quarter of the game but Schlingermann’s spell wore off after 90 minutes as Towell fired home for his fourth of the half, courtesy of a third Horgan assist.
It wasn’t quite as bad as the 7-0 whipping Dundalk gave them here last year not that that will be an iota of consolation as Derry’s draw with Shamrock Rovers sees Drogheda slip into third from the bottom.
Mark Kinsella had a promising start taking over the Drogheda managerial position last week. He oversaw a win at Derry that ended a ten match winless run. Tonight his side crash landed back to reality, and they will have to dust themselves off for the fight for survival.
Dundalk FC: Gary Rogers, Seán Gannon,, Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle (C), Dane Massey, Chris Shields, Daryl Horgan, Ronan Finn (Sean Maguire 81), Richie Towell, Darren Meenan (John Mountney 73), David McMillian (Ciaran Kilduff 77).
Subs not used: Gabriel Sava, Stephe O’Donnell, Shane Grimes, Paddy Barrett.
Sent off: None.
Drogheda Utd: Micheal Schlingermann, Joe Gorma, Alan Byrne, Mick Daly (C), Sean Thornton (Mark Hughes 69), Sean Brennan(Robert Bayly 61), Adam Whelan, Robert O’Reilly, Keith Tracey(Lee Duffy 57),, Stephen Maher, Jason Marks
Subs not used: Tiaran Mulvenna.
Booked: Tracy (33), Schlingermann (58), Duffy (72).
Sent off: Marks (55).
Referee: Rob Rogers.
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: Richie Towell (Dundalk FC).