Dundalk followed up their impressive win over St Patrick’s Athletic with another ruthless display against Derry City at Oriel Park on Monday evening.
Lilywhites manager Stephen Kenny said that victory over the champions would count for little if it wasn’t backed up with three points against the Candystripes and his side responded to his wishes in some style.
After shooting blanks in the first-half, a powerful header from Brian Gartland put Dundalk on their way in the 53rd minute before further strikes from Richie Towell and David McMillan sealed the win.
Towell’s goal summed up Derry’s night, a lighting fast counter attack after a Candystripes free-kick had broken down on the edge of the Dundalk penalty area.
In his preview of the match, Derry manager Roddy Collins slated the Oriel Park surface and predicted that there wouldn’t be “a bound of attractive football” in the opening hour. Unfortunately for him, his side didn’t display any whatsoever in the full 90 plus that were played.
Dundalk held the upper hand for the majority of the first-half but Kenny will have been disappointed that Ger Doherty in the Derry goal was rarely called into action.
A well worked move in the 12th minute should have resulted in the opening goal. Kurtis Byrne’s vicious ball across the face of goal demanded to be tucked away but there was nobody in a white shirt on hand to finish it off.
Dundalk continued to press and Gartland, who was allowed time and space to play out from the back on a number of occasions, picked out the unmarked Towell on the edge of the box but his first time effort screwed wide of the post.
Towell helped himself to a hat-trick in the previous encounter between these two sides and he looked eager to get on the scoresheet again, firing a half volley wide from 18-yards after good play down the right by the adventurous Sean Gannon.
Derry struggled to get any sort of flow into their play and they were on the back foot again after 24 minutes. Byrne’s corner from the right was flicked on by Hoban but Dane Massey couldn’t adjust his feet and the ball went over the top.
Frustrated by his side’s grim display in the opening half hour, Roddy Collins was more animated than usual in his technical area.
And the Candystripes manager had bigger concerns when he lost centre-back Ryan McBride with a serious injury after a clash of heads with Patrick Hoban. McBride needed 13 minutes of treatment after swallowing his tongue, before being taken away to hospital in an ambulance.
The lengthy stoppage almost caught Dundalk cold on the resumption as Barry Molloy’s 20-yard drive narrowly went past Peter Cherrie’s right hand post. It was Derry City’s lone effort in the opening half which came to a close after 57 minutes.
Dundalk continued to knock on the door in the opening stages of the second-half and they thought they had finally found a way through when Byrne smashed home a Stephen O’Donnell cross at the back post but the assistant’s flag was raised for offside against the Dundalk skipper.
The pressure eventually told seven minutes later. Another Byrne corner from the right was met by the head of Gartland and the towering centre-half left Doherty with no chance to claim his second goal in successive home games.
The game was all but put to bed 10 minutes later. A Derry City free-kick came to nothing on the edge of the Dundalk penalty area and four white shirts sprung forward to outnumber the Candystripes defence two to one. Byrne was spoiled for options but he chose correctly and Towell turned on the afterburners to collect and shoot home.
The isolated Enda Curran saw a looping header kiss the top of the crossbar and a rasping effort saved well by Cherrie but moments like that were few and far between for for a Derry City side lacking any sort of invention.
And the icing was put on the cake for Dundalk in the final minute when substitute David McMillan took a wonderful cross field pass from Towell down to smack a powerful effort across Doherty.
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle, Dane Massey; Stephen O’Donnell, Chris Shields; Daryl Horgan, Richie Towell, Kurtis Byrne (Darren Meenan 75); Patrick Hoban (David McMillan 56).
Derry City: Ger Doherty; Roddy Collins, Cliff Byrne, Ryan McBride (Dean Jarvis 42), Aaron Barry; Mark Stewart (Ryan Curran 63), Danny Ventre, Barry Molloy, Jon Paul McGovern, Mark Timlin (Michael Duffy HT); Enda Curran.
Referee: Tom Connolly.