Dundalk FC's Brian Gartland celebrates their title win. (Pic: Ciarán Culligan)
SSE Airtricity League Premier Division
Dundalk FC 5-0 Sligo Rovers
Dundalk FC marked their special night with a special display at Oriel Park on Friday night as they hammered hapless Sligo Rovers before lifting the league trophy.
In front of 3,877, Stephen Kenny’s men were scintillating, playing champagne football and pummelling the lowly visitors from the off, moving on to a record 86 points courtesy of their win.
Local tenor David Martin performed a live rendition of Nessun Dorma before kick-off, maintaining a season-long pre-match tradition, bringing the main stand crowd to their feet in appreciation.
It was box office viewing and Dundalk ensured there were plenty of ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ throughout with a high tempo opening. Indeed, by the time the simmering atmosphere came off the boil - ever so slightly - the Lilywhites led and a whirlwind 15 minutes had passed.
John Mountney opened the scoring on nine minutes, dinking shrewdly over the busiest man in Oriel, Sligo ‘keeper Ed McGinty, after Ronan Murray had measured his lofted ball to perfection.
GOAL - Dundalk had already missed a penalty and had a goal disallowed for offside by time John Mountney gave the Lilywhites a 9th minute lead pic.twitter.com/3uMGvqbSyK— Soccer Republic (@SoccRepublic) October 19, 2018
In truth, the score had been coming. Patrick Hoban - who finished the night with two goals - saw McGinty save his fourth minute penalty after the dancing feet of Patrick McEleney had been hacked down entering the area, before, just a minute later, Dundalk’s livewire, Michael Duffy, had a strike ruled out for offside with Hoban omnipresent in the build-up.
And so Mountney’s effort marked the end of a steadfast opening.
The Bit O’Red, in front of new manager Liam Buckley, managed to get a grip on the game as the opening period progressed, but then Duffy hit them with another sucker punch, teasing the frantically backtracking Kyle McFadden before arrowing the ball to the bottom corner of the net.
A third arrived before the interval as Mountney brought up his brace, bravely beating the advancing McGinty in heading home Dean Jarvis’ delivery.
The second period went like the first, with Dundalk in complete control. Hoban had a shot cleared off the line by McFadden before he atoned for his earlier miss by sending McGinty the wrong way from 12 yards, after Liam Kerrigan had clipped Seán Gannon.
And the Galwegian subsequently diverted his second past McGinty to level Brendan Bradley’s 29 goal haul of 42 years ago. One more goal would see the Dundalk striker become the first Irish man to score 30 league goals in a season.
Dundalk FC: Gary Rogers; Seán Gannon, Brian Gartland, Seán Hoare, Dean Jarvis (Dane Massey 77); Patrick McEleney, Chris Shields; John Mountney (Dylan Connolly HT), Ronan Murray (Jamie McGrath 63), Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban
Subs not used: Gabriel Sava (gk), Georgie Poynton, Daniel Cleary, Georgie Kelly
Sligo Rovers: Ed McGinty; Kyle McFadden, John Mahon, Seamus Sharkey, Liam Kerrigan (Darren Collins 74); Lee J Lynch, Jack Keaney (Lewis Morrison 66); Kris Twardek, Rhys McCabe, Adam Wixted (Niall Morahan HT); Mikey Drennan
Subs: Mitchell Beeney (gk), Regan Donelon, David Cawley
Referee: Rob Rogers (Dublin)
Attendance: 3,877 (official)