Dundalk’s Patrick McEleney gets away from Graham Hannigan of St Pat’s CY in the Leinster Senior Cup game in Dublin. Picture: Ciaran Culligan
Patrick McEleney was the star of the show as Dundalk advanced to the quarter-finals of the Leinster Senior Cup thanks to a 4-2 win over St Patrick’s CY in Dublin on Thursday night.
A number of Dundalk fans braved the biting cold to take in their side’s first competitive game of the year and McEleney's performance would surely have warmed their hearts.
The Derryman caught the eye in Dundalk’s opening game of pre-season against Glenavon in Lurgan and he backed that up by playing a big part in each of the opening three goals here before rounding off a decent night’s work for the League of Ireland champions by scoring the fourth in stoppage time.
The journey to Ringsend is fast becoming a familiar one for Dundalk supporters. The Aviva Stadium provided the backdrop with Irishtown native Sean Gannon, whose parents house was also in view of the astroturf pitch, handed the captain’s armband for the night.
Despite a number of players sidelined with niggling injuries, Kenny named a strong side with new boys Conor Clifford and Niclas Vemmelund included. However, there was no sign of Paddy McCourt who earlier in the week seemed to pour cold water on the prospects of moving to Dundalk.
After making his return from a calf injury in the 6-0 win over CF
The hosts, with former Lilywhites midfielder David Cassidy operating in midfield, started at a frantic pace but Dundalk settled into things with McEleney's class there for all to see.
His attempted chip over Pat's goalkeeper Sean Coffey almost put Dundalk in front after 25 minutes. Prior to that, Coffey gathered a deflected Paddy Barrett effort.
Youngster Carlton Ubaezuono was given a chance to impress and his 37th-minute goal separated the teams at the break. McEleney was instrumental, finding Ciaran Kilduff who put the ball on a plate for Ubaezuono to rifle home with his right foot.
McEleney fired a free-kick just off target in the early stages of the second-half as Dundalk took control and John Mountney saw a goalbound header knocked off the line by Pat's defender Thomas Walsh.
A rapid counter-attack led to the second goal just short of the hour mark with Ubaezuono releasing McEleney on the left and his centre was converted by Kilduff, despite the best efforts of Coffey.
That looked to be that but the Leinster Senior League side hauled themselves back into things in the 64th minute when Cassidy stabbed home following some uncertainty by
Dundalk, however, restored their two-goal lead just five minutes later when Paddy Barrett's towering header found McEleney and his pinpoint through ball sent Kilduff clear on goal, the big striker dispatching with class.
To their credit, Stephen Geoghegan's side refused to wilt and they were thrown a lifeline when Sava's woeful clearance found the feet of substitute Dean Gannon who returned the ball with interest to find the empty net.
That gave the hosts some impetus approaching the final five minutes but McEleney had the final say, picking up a Dane Massey pass to dance his way around a couple of challenges before beating Coffey at his exposed near post.
ST PATRICK’S CY: Sean Coffey; Gareth Matthews, Lee Joyce, Gerard Griffin, Thomas Walsh, Graham Hannigan, Aaron Montgomery, David Cassidy, Dean Kelly, Paul Healy, Glen Keddy. Subs: Dean Gannon, Inaki Moreno, Andrew Doolin, Lee Harrison, Brian O’Reilly, Jonathan Rooney, Daragh Healy.
DUNDALK FC: Gary Rogers (Gabriel Sava 5); Sean Gannon, Paddy Barrett, Niclas Vemmelund, Dane Massey; Keith Dalton (Jake O’Connor 74), Conor Clifford; John Mountney, Patrick McEleney (Jack O’Keefe 90+1), Carlton Ubaezuono; Ciaran Kilduff. Subs not used: Dean Watters, James Rice, Emmet Hughes.