Dundalk FC's Georgie Kelly is congratulated by his team-mates following Friday night's goal against Bohemians at Dalymount Park. (Pic: Sportsfile)
SSE Airtricity League Premier Division
Bohemians 0-2 Dundalk FC
Dundalk FC are top of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division table for the first time in the Vinny Perth era following tonight’s victory over Bohemians at Dalymount Park.
In stretching their unbeaten run in Phibsborough to seven years, the Lilywhites shaded an entertaining, if scrappy affair which saw the popular Georgie Kelly strike for the contest’s opening goal midway through the first half.
The striker - in for the suspended Patrick Hoban - finished superbly on 22 minutes, controlling a loose ball in the penalty area, swivelling in almost the same movement, and driving beneath Bohs ’keeper James Talbot - who was excellent on the night, and later saved a penalty from Chris Shields.
That came after Michael Duffy, who was integral to the move that resulted in the breakthrough, had been upended, but the midfielder was a strange choice of taker and his miss may well have been rued had Seán Hoare not risen to nod in a decisive second goal as full-time approached.
But Kelly’s role in the victory was especially noteworthy. As the 22-year-old darted away in celebration, he was justifiably mobbed by team-mates, which alluded to the significance of the goal at a venue which is traditionally so difficult to win at. Yet it could also be a turning point for the Donegal man in his Dundalk career.
Chances have been sparse for him since his arrival from UCD - where he was the First Division’s most deadly marksman - last summer, yet he’s a proven goalscorer and his finish on Friday was typical of an able striker.
Patrick Hoban is undoubtedly Perth’s preferred option in a Dundalk team that has built its success on a system that includes just the one frontman, and it’s impossible to deny that the Galwegian - now the club’s vice-captain - is the domestic division’s most feared No.9. His goal record means that he just has to be the regular fixture, but it could well be that Dundalk possess the league’s two best forwards.
Prior to a dominant Dundalk finish, Bohs, as one would expect with the scoreline as it was, built a head of steam. The Lilywhites had Kelly and Seán Murray in the team, players who hadn’t played much football in the weeks and games prior and it was as much to do with fatigue setting in that Keith Long’s men wrestled a foothold as anything else.
The hosts had chances to level, Gary Rogers - making his 544th League of Ireland career appearance, which is a record for a ’keeper - having to pull off a number of impressive stops, but once Hoare doubled the advantage the outcome was never in doubt.
Although, even during their spell camped in the Dundalk half, Bohs’ testing of the opposing rear-guard was largely harmless, Brian Gartland and Hoare fulfiling their primary chores competently.
Indeed, Dundalk could have won by more and had they done so, it would hardly have been cause for flatter.
It was convincing, just like the Lilywhites of old. Top of the table, just….
Bohemians: James Talbot; Derek Pender (Andy Lyons 52), James Finnerty, Aaron Barry, Darragh Leahy; Keith Buckley, Conor Levingstone; Danny Grant (Luke Wade-Slater 75), Danny Mandriou, Kevin Devaney (Keith Ward 60); Dinny Corcoran
Subs not used: Seán Bohan (gk), Robbie McCourt, Michael Barket, Ryan Swan
Dundalk FC: Gary Rogers; Seán Gannon, Brian Gartland, Seán Hoare, Dean Jarvis; Chris Shields, Patrick McEleney; Daniel Kelly (Cameron Dummigan 88), Seán Murray (John Mountney 73), Michael Duffy; Georgie Kelly
Subs not used: Aaron McCarey (gk), Daniel Cleary, Dane Massey, Lido Lotefa
Referee: Ben Connolly (Dublin)