Devastating Lilywhites blow Sligo Rovers away

Gavin McLaughlin at

Reporter:

Gavin McLaughlin at

Dundalk fans in The Shed show their appreciation after the players had applauded them for their support after they defeated Sligo Rovers 3-0 at Oriel Park
Time will tell if Dundalk go on and win their first League of Ireland title in 19 years but one thing is for sure, the club’s supporters have not witnessed football or a team like this in quite some time.

Time will tell if Dundalk go on and win their first League of Ireland title in 19 years but one thing is for sure, the club’s supporters have not witnessed football or a team like this in quite some time.

If you were looking for evidence of that, it came in the post match interviews following Friday night’s latest, delicious exhibition of attacking football.

Gerry Malone, LMFM’s Dundalk FC correspondent - and a long standing follower of the Lilywhites - remarked that this was as impressive a side as he had seen since the Jim McLaughlin era. Few would disagree, it was that good of a performance.

Coming on the back of the 7-0 derby drubbing of Drogheda United three nights earlier, this was another chilling warning of intent from Kenny’s free scoring side.

Sligo Rovers, league champions two years ago and reigning FAI Cup winners, were tossed aside in devastating fashion, their eight game unbeaten record nothing but a distant memory at full-time.

The sides met in the Setanta Cup final two weeks previously in Tallaght with the result going the Bit o’Red’s way but, on Friday night, there was only ever going to be one outcome as the league leaders fizzed with intent right from the off.

Dundalk continued where they left off in the derby by flooding men forward at every opportunity. The only surprise at half-time was that they only had a solitary strike to show for their total dominance of the opening 45 minutes.

That goal arrived midway through the half from Daryl Horgan. The little winger picked up possession and was invited to advance towards the Rovers box. By the time somebody in a red shirt came to close him down, the ball was already past Gary Rogers, Horgan’s vicious low drive beating the keeper at his right hand post.

Sligo had already been served notice prior to the goal. Horgan should have opened the scoring early on but he shot straight at Rogers’ legs after being slipped in by Kurtis Byrne.

The Galwegian, who looks to have really found his stride in recent weeks, then fluffed his lines in the 16th minute, mis-kicking in front of goal after a wonderful four man move had sliced the Rovers defence to shreds. Evan McMillan was on hand to hoof the scuffed effort off the line.

There was nothing Rogers to do to stop Horgan from opening the scoring soon after but the Meathman did prevent Dundalk from pulling out of sight, saving brilliantly from Sean Gannon and Richie Towell before the break.

The second-half was just three minutes old when the natives deservedly made it 2-0. Darren Meenan, another who has shone brightly in recent weeks, picked out Byrne in space in the box and he curled a cracking left footed drive past the helpless Rogers.

The Sligo goal continued to face a barrage after that and Byrne and Hoban were both denied by Rogers before the latter tapped home goal number three from close range after a Byrne shot had rattled the woodwork.

The visitors looked completely shell shocked and but for their goalkeeper - and the woodwork denying Darren Meenan in the dying stages - they could also have shipped seven. The final whistle went without Peter Cherrie having to make a single save.

This result leaves Sligo Rovers 11 points behind Dundalk and even with just 14 games gone, the men from the west’s hopes of reclaiming the league title look to have gone up in smoke.

For those on the east coast, the dream becomes clearer with each passing week.