Dundalk’s treble bid still on track as they wallop Wexford to book EA Sports Cup final spot

Gavin McLaugh


Gavin McLaugh

Stephen Kenny might not appreciate it, but, if Dundalk keep going the way they are at present, whispers of a domestic treble will become louder by the week.

Six points clear at the top of the SSE Airtricity League table and with First Division Galway FC standing in their way of a place in the last eight of the FAI Cup, Dundalk cruised into the EA Sports Cup final - the club’s first in 19 years - by completely dismissing Wexford Youths out of hand at Oriel Park on Bank Holiday Monday.

While the league title is the holy grail for those associated with the Louth club, there is no reason why, on current form, they cannot have a tilt at all three trophies still up for grabs.

Kenny certainly has the squad at his disposal. His starting XI yesterday included none of the players who began the 2-1 win over Cork City at Turner’s Cross on Friday night but it still included players of real quality in the shape of Mark Rossiter, David McMillan, Keith Ward and Ruaidhri Higgins.

If those players provided experience, then there was also a healthy dose of youthful exuberance thrown into the mix. Dundalk finished the game with six players on the pitch, Conor McDonald, Manny Kaguako, Ciaran O’Connor, Paul Finnegan, Georgie Poynton and Marc Griffin who have all come through the youths ranks at Oriel Park.

Higgins was part of the Derry City side that seemed to have a monopoly on the League Cup by winning it four years on the trot between 2008 and 2011 and he was instrumental in booking another final appearance against Shamrock Rovers on September 20.

His vicious corner led to the opener after 24 minutes, Marc Griffin profiting from slack marking by the Youths to head home from the angle of the six-yard box.

This was Griffin’s first goal for Dundalk this season and Ward joined him in getting off the mark with the second just before the break.

Higgins was again the architect, his quick free kick catching the Youths back four cold. Ward collected, lifted his head and floated a delightful 20-yard chip over Graham Doyle to rapturous applause. His celebration with long time fans Paddy and Iris McGuinness was a demonstration of how much of a bond exists between this team and the supporters.

Three more arrived without reply in the second-half although things could have been different had Gabriel Sava not made a fantastic double save to deny Danny Furlong and Ben Ryan in the 65th minute.

Ward was again involved for Dundalk’s third and fourth goals, setting up McMillan in the 77th minute before picking out Mountney with a through ball that ended with the midfielder rounding Doyle for goal number four.

The icing was put on an emphatic win when McMillan lashed home from 25-yards in time added on to leave Dundalk one win away from winning the competition for the first time since 1990.

Dundalk FC: Gabriel Sava; Ciaran O’Connor (Georgie Poynton 80), Mark Rossiter, Simon Kelly (Paul Finnegan 68), Manny Kaguako; Keith Ward, Ruaidhri Higgins; John Mountney, Donal McDermott (Conor McDonald 30), Marc Griffin; David McMillan.

Wexford Youths: Graham Doyle; Craig Shortt (CJ Browne 80), Stephen Last, Killian Cantwell, Shane Nolan; Adam Cox (Brian Doyle 88), Shane Dunne, Craig Wall, Eric Molloy; Danny Furlong, Ben Ryan.

Referee: Robert Harvey.