Odhrán Crumley reports from the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium
Derry City tasted defeat at the Brandywell for the first time this season on Friday night as the experience of league champions Dundalk told over the course of the game.
The rawness of the Derry ranks is something many have noted from the beginning of the season and that inexperience told over the 90 minutes.
Failure to take their chances in the first half was duly punished by goals either side of the break from Sean Murray and Patrick Hoban.
Despite the defeat though, the game will be seen as a valuable education for the Candystripes going forward and there can be no doubt that management and supporters alike can take real heart from the performance.
The ruthlessness from ‘The Lilywhites’ in the second period afforded the sizable travelling support to sing ‘that’s why we’re champions’ without fear of trepidation.
Five minutes into the contest the Brandywell paused to remember one of their own. All sections of the Lonemoor Road venue erupted in two minutes of applause to remember their late, great captain, Ryan McBride.
Both teams would come close with headed efforts in the opening exchanges, Junior coming close before Patrick Hoban with a free header was denied by a diving Peter Cherrie.
Derry domination began to grow as Barry McNamee had a sweetly struck free kick from the right of the area sensationally saved en-route to the top corner of the net by Gary Rogers at full stretch.
The old mantra would lead you to believe you need to rattle the net when on top and Dundalk hammered the message home courtesy of Murray.
He appeared to have all the time in the world, despite standing inside the Derry area to volley Michael Duffy’s cross home.
Inspired by what they had already witnessed from their team, the home support rallied their troops and they really should have drawn level on the break.
McNamee swung yet another, dangerous corner into the area but, somehow Ally Gilchrist managed to direct the ball over the top when it looked easier to score.
Vinny Perth’s side took their slender advantage with them to the changing rooms at the break and all but killed the contest in the early stages of the second half.
What at first appeared an innocuous ball over the top from the visitors became live as Cherrie collided with Hoban in the area.
Referee Ben Connolly was left with no option but to award the spot-kick.
To further hammer home the blow, Cherrie was forced to leave the field due to injury, with substitute goalkeeper Nathan Gartside entering the field of play with his first call to action to pick the ball out of the back of the net as Hoban sent the sub ‘keeper the wrong way.
The remainder of the contest would ebb and flow like two heavyweight boxers slugging it out.
Rogers added further evidence to the argument that he may actually be a wall denying no less than three dangerous Derry free-kick’s which would have been deemed unstoppable by lesser men.
Dundalk should have made it three as the ex-Derry duo of Michael Duffy and Dean Jarvis linked up only for the latter to blaze over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
It would finish 2-0 to the champions, in what many would term as a professional performance, as they moved into second place in the table four points behind Shamrock Rovers.
Neither side are in action next week due to international call-up’s as Derry prepare to host Sligo on March 29thwhile Dundalk will travel to take Cork.
Derry City:Peter Cherrie (Nathan Gartside 53); Conor McDermott (Eoghan Stokes 78), Eoin Toal, Darren Cole, Ciaran Coll (Aidy Delap 55); Ally Gilchrist, Ciaron Harkin, Greg Sloggett; Barry McNamee, Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe, David Parkhouse.
Subs not Used: Gerardo Bruna, Evan Tweed, Josh Kerr, Gianni Seraf.
Booked: Conor McDermott (28), David Parkhouse (33).
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Daniel Cleary, Dane Massey; Sean Murray (Dean Jarvis 48), Sean Hoare, Daniel Kelly (Cameron Dummigan 85), Jamie McGrath, Michael Duffy (Jordan Flores 93); Patrick Hoban.
Subs not Used: Aaron McCarey, Georgie Kelly, Stephen Folan, Dylan Hand.
Booked: Sean Hoare (35), Daniel Cleary (63), Dean Jarvis (67), Brian Gartland (81).
Referee: Ben Connolly
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Gary Rogers (Dundalk)