DUNDALK took a massive step towards their first cup final since 2002 after coming from behind to beat Cliftonville 3-1 in their Setanta Cup semi-final first leg tie at Solitude on Monday night.
This year’s competition has been illuminated by the Lilywhites’ Mark Quigley. Nobody has revelled in the cross border cup more than the former St Patrick’s Athletics and Bohemians striker and last night he again left his mark at an Irish League ground in Belfast by hitting two stunning efforts to give Cliftonville a mountain to climb in the second leg.
Quigley’s first strike arrived in the third minute of the second-half and was the result of craft and power combined. Nothing seemed on when the Dundalk number 9 received the ball some 30-yards from goal but after selling Tony Kane a clever dummy he cracked a thunderous drive past a startled Jack Duffin to make it 1-1 on the night.
If Dundalk’s equaliser was sublime, Daniel Kearns’’ 72nd minute goal was very much the ridiculous with Cliftonville goalkeeper Jack Duffin guilty of a horrendous mistake, letting a weak effort squirm under his body, much to the delight of the travelling fans.
Quigley put clear daylight between the sides with his 5th goal of the competition in the 82nd minute. Kearns played a ball into his feet and after exchanging passes with Jason Byrne on the edge of the box, Quigley guided a magnificent effort past the helpless Duffin.
The three goal blitz wiped out Cliftonville’s first-half advantage, given to them in the 28th minute by George McMullan who found himself in the right place to fire the loose ball through the legs of Nathan Murphy and inside Peter Cherrie’s left hand corner.
The Reds almost pulled one back in stoppage time but that man Quigley was on hand to hack the ball away at the back post after Peter Cherrie had misjudged a McMullen corner.
CLIFTONVILLE: Duffin; Fleming, Hutton, Donaghy (McVeigh 63), Kane; Garrett, McMullen, Catney, Smyth (Clarke 89); Donnelly, Scannell (Holland 79).
DUNDALK: Cherrie; Madden, Hawkins, Guthrie, N Murphy; Kearns, Ward, McDonnell, Gaynor; Byrne (Breen 81), Quigley.
REF: Damien Hancock (Dublin).