JUST three weeks after putting Linfield to the sword at Windsor Park, Dundalk returned to Belfast to claim another Setanta Cup victory with Mark Quigley’s 82nd minute thunderbolt giving them a precious 1-0 win over Glentoran at The Oval.
Around 200 Dundalk fans made the trip to the famous old ground in east Belfast and they were given something special to celebrate when the Lilywhites centre forward smacked a wonderful first-time volley past Elliot Morris from 20-yards to give Dundalk a crucial lead going into the second leg at Oriel Park in two weeks time.
Despite enjoying the territorial advantage for much of the first-half, Glentoran never really opened Dundalk up. Peter Cherrie was only summoned into real action once, racing from his line in the 36th minute to smother a Matty Burrows effort from 18-yards.
The Scottish goalkeeper had lady luck on his side 11 minutes earlier though when Richard Gibson’s glancing header from a Daryl Fordyse cross clipped the post and went wide.
Dundalk came back into things at the butt end of the first-half with Daniel Kearns unlucky to see a heavy touch ruin his chances of letting fly from a Mark Quigley pass but in the main, Ian Foster’s men will have been happy to go in at the break all square.
The League of Ireland side showed a lot more intent in the second-half with Jason Byrne seeing a header brilliantly saved by Elliott Morris in the 50th minute. The wily striker then missed an open goal after Morris collided with centre back Colin Nixon but Dundalk bagged a crucial away goal nine minutes later thanks to Quigley’s wonder strike.
Speaking afterwards, Foster said he was pleased with the display, albeit following a few choice words in the dressing room at half-time.
“It’s a wonderful night. For my players to get two wins in Belfast is fantastic. I thought it was a very professional away performance and we’ve picked up our first clean sheet of the season. Mark Quigley has scored a wonderful goal and we are delighted to be one goal up going into the second leg.
“I don’t think we got tight enough to them in the first-half and they were allowed to put the ball into our box with more quality than we should have let them. We had a word at half-time and I don’t think Peter Cherrie had an awful lot to do in the second-half.
“We need to play at a high tempo. We didn’t do that in the first-half. If we don’t do that we look off it and that was there for all to see in the first-half but we certainly addressed it in the second-half.”
The Dundalk manager also heaped praise on Quigley’s strike and is hoping that Oriel Park atmosphere can be a decisive factor when the sides meet in the second leg on March 21.
“Mark Quigley does that day in day out. He has the ability to smash goals like that in and we didn’t want it to fall to anybody else.”
“The second leg against Linfield was the best atmosphere I’ve sampled as a Dundalk manager and if we can replicate that against Glentoran it will be a massive boost and they will find it very difficult.”
GLENTORAN: Elliott Morris; Jamie McGovern, Johnny Taylor, Colin Nixon, Jason Hill; Neal Gawley, Daryl Fordyce, Richard Clarke, Andrew Waterworth; Matthew Burrows (Peter Steele 79), Richard Gibson.
DUNDALK: Peter Cherrie; Simon Madden, Shane Guthrie, Michael Hector, Nathan Murphy; Daniel Kearns, Dean Bennett, Stephen Maher, Keith Ward (Stephen McDonnell 90), Mark Quigley, Jason Byrne (Johnny Breen 88).
REFEREE: Arnold Hunter.