DFC | Another piece of McEleney magic sets Dundalk FC on the way to easy win

SSE Airtricity League of Ireland | Dundalk FC 3–0 Limerick FC

Patrick McEleney celebrates his goal against Limerick at Oriel Park. PICTURE: BEN MCSHANE

Speaking earlier in the week, Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny said it was his intention to keep Patrick McEleney at Oriel Park beyond the end of the current season.

Kenny’s task, however, could be nigh on impossible after the Derryman added the latest instalment to his personal collection of stunning goals against Limerick on Friday night. It will certainly have caught the eye of any interested parties in the UK or beyond.

The 24-year-old was the difference between these sides in the corresponding fixture in March. A left-footed drive, that arrowed into the top corner of the net, did the damage to Limerick on that occasion. Here, it was a stroke of his right —that guided the ball into the opposite corner — that set Dundalk on their way to a much-needed three points.

One point from their previous nine meant that Limerick arrived in Dundalk sitting precariously above the drop zone before kick-off. By the time they departed, the gap below them had closed even more, three points separating them from the relegation places.

Dundalk came into the game on the back of some patchy form themselves. Their last win came against Bohemians on July 3rd. The scorer that night was Ciaran Kilduff who was at Oriel to say some farewells before his move to US side, Jacksonville Armada.

Dylan Connolly gets up above the Limerick defence to meet this cross. PICTURE: BEN MCSHANE

There was very little to get excited about before McEleney’s goal. The best opening came in the 12th minute when a David McMillan knockdown fell invitingly for Robbie Benson to hit on the half volley but his effort flew well off the mark.

Benson went close again midway through the half, running to the near post to meet a Dylan Connolly corner only to see his glancing effort fly across the face of goal.

Things were a little flat but McEleney lit the place up with his 32nd-minute opener. Hauled down by David O’Connor in full flight, he picked himself up to curl a sublime 20-yard free kick into Brendan Clarke’s top right-hand corner.

Dundalk opened up after that and Niclas Vemmelund headed off target after beating Clarke to a Michael Duffy free kick. Duffy then raced clear on the left to pull the ball back nicely for McMillan but he squandered the opportunity.

The hosts started with real intensity after the break, pinning the visitors back and Clarke was relieved to see a blistering Duffy effort whistle over the top.

Robbie Benson celebrates with Brian Gartland after scoring Dundalk’s third goal. PICTURE: BEN MCSHANE

The pressure eventually told and goal number two arrived eight minutes in when Duffy’s floated free from the right was nodded home in emphatic fashion by Brian Gartland.

Limerick found themselves on the ropes and their backline was breached again three minutes later, Benson getting the final touch to a Gartland header that looked destined for the net.

In the end, Neil McDonald’s side did well to keep it at three. Goal difference could be vital in the battle to avoid the drop, a battle that Limerick are most definitely in after this result.

DUNDALK FC: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Sean Hoare, Niclas Vemmelund; Chris Shields, Robbie Benson (Stephen O’Donnell 68); Dylan Connolly, Patrick McEleney (John Mountney 84), Michael Duffy; David McMillan (Jamie McGrath 76). Subs not used: Gabriel Sava (GK), Shane Grimes, Conor Clifford, Steven Kinsella.

LIMERICK: Brendan Clarke; Barry Cotter (Stephen Kenny 66), Tony Whitehead, Joe Crowe, David O’Connor; Dean Clarke, Lee J Lynch, Shane Dunne, Henry Cameron (Bastien Hery 64); Chiedozie Ogbene, Rodrigo Tosi (John O’Flynn 83). Subs not used: Freddy Hall (GK), Shane Tracy, Garbhan Coughlan, Killian Brouder.

REFEREE: Derek Tomney. ATTENDANCE: 2083.

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