THREE goals in the space of five minutes early in the first-half killed off the chances of the Tommy McConville local select XI as Dundalk ran out easy 5-0 winners in the Challenge Cup match at Oriel Park on Saturday., WRITES GAVIN MCLAUGHLIN.
Four days after putting six goals past the Defence Forces, Stephen Kenny’s strikers used the opportunity to once again fill their boots with new signing Vinny Faherty and Kurtis Byrne – with a brace - amongst those that hit the target.
Kenny named a strong team with Faherty taking his place at the point of the attack and the striker opened his account after just 90 seconds, finishing off a move that carved the local select XI open.
Byrne was given acres of space to pick a pass and when the ball fell to the feet of Keith Ward inside the penalty area, there was no doubting he would find the right pass; his cutback tapped home by Faherty from close range.
The local side were subdued eary on with their first real venture into the Dundalk half coming after 10 minutes. Drew Duffy played a great ball into the left channel but Billy Smith saw his run snuffed out by Mark Rossiter and centre-back John Sullivan.
The League of Ireland outfit looked sharper in every department and it was no surprise when they doubled their lead after 18 minutes. Stephen McDonnell was the creator, the midfielder given all the time in the world to pick out the run of Byrne and the striker’s vicious drive had too much power for Robert Arthur.
If this finish was all about power, Byrne’s next goal just 60 seconds later was all about finesse. Played in by Stephen O’Donnell, the striker curled the ball beautifully past Arthur with a first time finish wiith the outside of his right foot to make it 3-0.
Byrne was enjoying himself on the inside right and he left Drew Duffy and Alan McCartney in no man’s land again soon after to act as provider for Stephen O’Donnell to stroke the ball home from 18-yards.
Stem the flow
The local side managed to stem the flow of goals after that and they went close to pulling one back in the 40th minute when Duffy fired a free-kick just over the crossbar.
The former Dundalk player then delivered a dangerous corner from the right but his Woodview Celtic team-mate Smith could only glance his header wide on the stroke of half-time.
Tommy Mac made a host of changes at the break and his side competed well at the start of the second-half with a Byrne – easily saved by sub goalkeeper Michael Cooney – the closest Dundalk came to adding to their tally early on.
Faherty should have had a second in the 57th minute. McDonnell, who impressed in the second-half fed the striker with a lovely slide rule pqss but Faherty, after making a yard for the shot, put the shot wide.
Billy Smith should have done likewise at the other end nine minutes later when he got the better of Dane Massey to advance on goal but Andy Boyle did just enough to get back and divert his shot wide of the upright.
The goal of the night arrived with 15 minutes to go. Keith Ward danced away from the challenge of John Smith on the edge of the box to fire a great drive into Cooney’s bottom right corner.
Cooney was almost left helpless again 90 seconds later when Dundalk broke at pace. Darren Meenan’s pass deflected kindly into the path of Faherty but the former St Pat’s man was unlucky to see his first time lob just go the wrong side of the post.
The game petered out in the dying stages with Patrick Hoban going close to converting a Ward pass in the 88th minute.
DUNDALK: Peter Cherrie; Mark Rossiter (Andy Boyle 50), John Sullivan, Dane Massey (Brat Turner, 80), Eoghan Osborne; Stephen McDonnell, Richie Towell, Stephen O’Donnell (Darren Meenan 62); Kurtis Byrne (Patrick Hoban 62), Vinny Faherty (Sami Osobe 80), Keith Ward. Unused subs: Chris Shields.
TOMMY MAC XI: Robert Arthur (Michael Cooney HT), Stefan McKevitt (Barry McKenna HT), Chris Caulfield (Keith Finnegan HT), Alan McCartney, Drew Duffy (John Smith HT); Ray McCann (Stephen Fisher HT), Patrick Quinn (Gary Clarke HT), Paul McArdle (Owen Armstrong HT), Gerry McSorley; Billy Smith, Paudie Hearty (David Ward HT).
REFEREE: Denis Dullaghan.