David McMillan controls possession ahead of Drogheda's Lloyd Buckley. (Pic: Ciarán Culligan)
SSE Airtricity League Premier Division
Dundalk FC 2-0 Drogheda United
Dundalk recorded their fourth 'Louth derby' win of the season at Oriel Park tonight, overcoming the spirited challenge of Drogheda United with Steven Kinsella, David McMillan and Michael Duffy on target.
The result - Dundalk's ninth victory in a row - ensures The Lilywhites' slim title hopes remain alive and a victory over Cork City on Monday night would cut the Leesiders' league lead to eight-points. Though, withstanding a dramatic end of season run, John Caulfield's men remain the champions-elect.
Another inevitable outcome is Drogheda United's relegation. This result, inspired by Kinsella's goal late in the first-half, helps the Boynesiders closer to the First Division. And to compound matters, Thomas Byrne received a second yellow late in the game - his second dismissal against Stephen Kenny's men this season.
Kinsella granted Dundalk a one-goal half-time lead. The winger - who would be later replaced by Duffy through injury - followed in after McMillan's header had been saved spectacularly by Stephen McGuinness, to score his first league goal for Dundalk.
The strike came at the end of a disappointing opening-half whereby the visitors had the clearest-cut openings. Firstly when Brian Gartland was forced to clear Shane Elworthy's shot off the line before Gary Rogers was made palm to safety having been caught in no mans' land by Byrne.
And, punishing those misses, Dundalk doubled their lead on 52 minutes as McMillan guided Seán Gannon's cross past the helpless McGuinness.
Thereafter, the traffic towards the town end goal - attacked by Dundalk - was relentless with Connolly, Duffy and McMillan forcing the visiting custodian into action before Duffy teased home the third goal on the stroke of the '90.
To Cork The Lilywhites go...
Dundalk FC: Gary Rogers; Seán Gannon, Brian Gartland, Niclas Vemmelund, Dane Massey; Conor Clifford (Robbie Benson 70), Stephen O’Donnell; Dylan Connolly, Jamie McGrath (Patrick McEleney 77), Steven Kinsella (Michael Duffy 47); David McMillan
Subs not used: Gabriel Sava (gk), Shane Grimes, Seán Hoare, Chris Shields
Booked: Gartland (33), Clifford (35)
Drogheda United: Stephen McGuinness; Colm Deasy (Stephen Elliott 63), Lloyd Buckley, Dave Mulcahy, Stephen Dunne; Ryan McEvoy, Richie Purdy, Seán Brennan (Jack Bayly 81); Adam Wixted (Mark Doyle 71), Thomas Byrne, Shane Elworthy
Subs not used: Harry Hogan (gk), Kevin Farragher, Ryan Masterson, Jamie Hollywood
Booked: Mulcahy (53), Byrne (55 & 81), Buckley (67)
Sent-off: Byrne (81)
Referee: Robert Harvey (Dublin)