Dundalk U19s fell to their first loss in the Promotion Play-Off Group by going down 2-1 at home to Mervue United on Saturday afternoon at Oriel Park.
The Lilywhites, who had beaten Mervue in the reverse fixture 2-1 a month ago, were without top scorer Ciaran O’Connor for the match through suspension as Dylan O’Hanlon took his place in attack.
It was O’Hanlon who passed up the first chance of the game after two minutes when he raced on to Craig Pentony’s through ball but dragged his attempt wide of the post.
They were punished for that miss 10 minutes later when Padraic Cunningham found himself with the opportunity in front of goal to put his team ahead and he made no mistake in driving into the back of the net.
Dundalk remained in contention with Marfide Matondo driving one high over the top before the break with Georgie Poynton trying his own luck from range but again it failed to trouble Andrew Connelly in the Galwegian goal.
A tidy team in attack, Mervue United doubled their advantage 13 minutes into the second half when Cunningham added his second of the day and third of the season with a neat finish that Ryan Davis in goal could do little to keep out.
The home side did pull one back with 12 minutes remaining when substitute Craig Doherty found the corner of the net with a slick left footed effort.
Despite late pressure heaped on them as the home side looked for a late equaliser through free kicks from Matondo and Conor McDonald but United held on for their victory. Dundalk still remain top of the table along with Derry City regardless and those two meet in the final game next week.
The win was some small measure of revenge for Mervue after Martin Connolly’s men had travelled to the west earlier in the year and left Fahy’s Field with all three points thanks to two second half strikes from Georgie Poynton, the winner coming in the 94th minute.
DUNDALK U19: Ryan Davis; Manuel Kaguako, Paul Finnegan, Anto Reilly, Calvin Murphy; Kevin Nolan (Craig Doherty 69), Georgie Poynton; Craig Pentony, Conor McDonald (C), Marfide Matondo; Dylan O’Hanlon. Subs not used: Padraig McGowan, Vlad Evseev, Cormac Boyle.
MERVUE UNITED U19: Andrew Connelly; Eric Neary, Gary Bailey, Robert Carroll, Paul Healy; Moise Assobba, Aaron Friel, Luke Tracey, Padraic Cunningham; Stephen Killeen, Michael James. Subs not used: Dylan Murphy, John Solier, Osaza Osagie.