Daniel Kelly 64' -
Niall Newberry reports from Oriel Park
Dundalk extended their unbeaten run in domestic competitions to an incredible 31 matches thanks to a 1-0 win over Derry City in the SSE Airtricity League.
Daniel Kelly’s goal on 64 minutes was all that could separate the sides in what was a drab affair as Dundalk are now just five points away from breaking the league’s single-season points record.
With a potential domestic treble on the horizon, Dundalk made five changes from their 1-0 win at Sligo Rovers in last Sunday’s FAI Cup semi-final with Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle, Cameron Dummigan, Robbie Benson and Sean Murray coming into the starting XI for the league champions.
European-chasing Derry City made two changes from their 4-0 win over Cork City as Jamie McDonagh and Darren McCauley returned in place of Grant Gillespie and the injured Jack Malone.
In what was Dundalk’s penultimate home league match of the season, they had the first effort of the night when the impressive Sean Gannon’s whipped cross was headed well wide by Patrick Hoban.
Soon after that, Dundalk’s top scorer laid the ball off to Daniel Kelly, whose rasping shot sailed just wide of Peter Cherrie’s near post but in truth, there was very little in the way of first half chances.
Derry captain Barry McNamee was causing some issues for the champions and his free-kick sailed just wide not long before he capitalised on a mix-up at the back between Gartland and Chris Shields which allowed him through on goal, but he scuffed his shot in what was a serious let-off for Dundalk.
The impressive Jamie McDonagh saw his shot from distance go well wide before at the other end, Derry native Michael Duffy hit the night’s first effort on target straight into the hands of Cherrie.
The visitors’ – who were the last team to record as much as even a point against Dundalk – first shot on target came through forward David Parkhouse, who stung the hands of Rogers from distance.
The best chance of the first period came four minutes before the break when Gannon whipped in a superb cross that was met by a diving-header from Hoban, but Cherrie produced an excellent stop.
The second half started in similar fashion and Benson’s shot swerved wide of the untroubled Cherrie’s post before Duffy’s cross from the left was headed over by Dundalk frontman Hoban.
Derry had a decent chance to take the lead on the hour-mark when McDonagh’s corner was headed on target by Eoin Toal, only for Dummigan to block the defender’s effort, but Rogers had it covered.
Perhaps undeservedly, Dundalk broke the deadlock on 64 minutes when the excellent Gannon sent in a beautiful cross from the right which was well finished by his fellow Ringsend man Daniel Kelly.
Derry’s best chance of the night came 15 minutes from time when substitute Grant Gillespie smashed his close-range effort off the inside of the post with Dundalk ‘keeper Rogers well beaten.
How and ever, Vinny Perth’s treble-chasers held out for what is a ninth straight win in the league, whilst also extending their unbeaten run in domestic competitions to an incredible 31 matches.
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle, Cameron Dummigan; Chris Shields, Robbie Benson; Daniel Kelly (Mark Hanratty 87), Sean Murray (Georgie Kelly 76), Michael Duffy (Lido Lotefa 60); Patrick Hoban.
Subs not used: Ross Treacy, Sean Hoare, Dane Massey, Jamie McGrath.
Booked: Chris Shields (90+4).
Derry City: Peter Cherrie; Jamie McDonagh, Eoin Toal, Ally Gilchrist, Ciaran Coll; Ciaron Harkin, Greg Sloggett (Grant Gillespie 32); Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe, Barry McNamee (Michael McCrudden 80), Darren McCauley (Conor Davis 57); David Parkhouse.
Subs not used: Nathan Gartside, Mark McChrystal, Ronan Boyce, Adrian Delap.
Booked: Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe (72).
Referee: Neil Doyle.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Sean Gannon (Dundalk).