Dundalk FC manager Stephen Kenny watched his side defeat Bray Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds on Friday night. (Pic: Ciarán Culligan)
SSE Airtricity League Premier Division
Bray Wanderers 1-3 Dundalk FC
Dundalk FC made it 12 league wins in a row with an easy triumph at the Carlisle Grounds on Friday night.
A victory which returned the Lilywhites to the top of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division table had equally as big an impact at the bottom. Bray Wanderers now look certain to be playing First Division football in 2019.
It was a dominant performance from Dundalk, whose performance levels were distinctly improved from those of recent weeks and with eight games to play, their goals tally here means they only require eight more to break the league's all-time record of 78 set by Stephen Kenny's men in the double-winning campaign of 2015. An omen, some may say...
Patrick Hoban's 24th goal of the campaign put the visitors ahead on 17 minutes after a thoroughly one-sided opening, as he headed Jamie McGrath's precise cross back across goal and into the corner of the net, before Robbie Benson, with a distinctly-similar finish, made it 2-0 nine minutes later.
They had numerous chances to extend the lead prior to half-time, but they were made to pay, however mildly, for their wastefulness when Wanderers pulled a goal back in the early stages of the second half. Former Dundalk attacker Jake Kelly was the beneficiary of a loose back-pass from Chris Shields as he controlled, rounded Gary Rogers and stroked home.
Another player featuring against a previous employer, Dylan Connolly, came in for Dundalk at half-time and he made his mark with a third goal. However, credit must go to Hoban, who marginally evaded the offside trap on the left, surged into the area and played across a teasing delivery which Connolly slid past Enda Minogue.
Their 21st league three-points of the season, the Lilywhites travel to Sligo Rovers on Monday night with their title bid continuing to gather pace.
Bray Wanderers: Enda Minogue; Seán Harding (Cian Walsh HT), Conor Kenna, Seán Heaney, Kevin Lynch; Rhys Gorman, Paul O'Conor; Dragos Mamaliga (Darragh Noone 71), Jake Kelly, Byron O'Gorman (Jake Ellis 80); Ger Pender
Subs not used: Jack Kelly (gk), Jamie Crilly, Cian Maher, Alex Rafferty
Dundalk FC: Gary Rogers; Seán Gannon, Brian Gartland, Daniel Cleary, Dane Massey; Chris Shields, Robbie Benson; Jamie McGrath (Dylan Connolly HT), Patrick McEleney (Ronan Murray 61), Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban (Georgie Kelly 85)
Subs not used: Gabriel Sava (gk), Seán Hoare, Stephen Folan, John Mountney
Referee: Damien MacGraith (Mayo)
Attendance: 1,050 (official)