DFC | Dano goes home with the match ball as Dundalk FC sweep Harps away

SSE Airtricity League of Ireland Premier Division
Dundalk FC 3–0 Finn Harps

Daniel Kelly went home with the match ball after hitting a hat-trick against Finn Harps. Picture: Ciaran Culligan

Two ‘47th-minute’ goals by hat-trick hero Daniel Kelly propelled Dundalk to all three points against Finn Harps at Oriel Park.

The 22-year-old winger broke the deadlock with a crisp left-footed drive in the second minute of stoppage time at the end of the first half.

And he repeated the dose just 99 seconds after the restart, smacking an unstoppable right-footed effort into Peter Burke’s top corner.

The hat-trick arrived eight minutes before the end, the former Bohemians star sweeping the ball across the helpless Burke to lift Dundalk into third place.

Patrick McEleney made his first start since the opening night of the season. Picture: Ciaran Culligan

Lilywhites head coach Vinny Perth was able to name Patrick McEleney and Chris Shields in the starting XI for the first time since February.

But he was forced into a reshuffle after just 12 minutes when Brian Gartland staggered off after being left dazed and confused by Daniel O’Reilly’s flailing arm.

The Harps left-back was booked by referee Rob Harvey for the challenge and his stock almost plummeted even further amongst the natives when he guided Tony McNamee’s long-throw towards goal only to see Gary Rogers claw the ball to safety.

The stop, start nature of the evening continued and Harps lost Ciaran Gallagher to injury in the 28th minute, the ‘keeper limping off with his arm in discomfort after a collision with Patrick Hoban.

Dundalk’s Jamie McGrath tries to get clear of Finn Harps’ Mark Coyle. Picture: Ciaran Culligan

The champions struggled to open the Harps backline up but a bit of class led to the opener in the second of nine additional minutes when Michael Duffy’s cutback was rifled home by Kelly from 18 yards.

The visitors almost responded immediately with Rogers making another fine stop to turn Mikey Place’s curling effort around the post. Kelly had to clear a Shields deflection off his own line from the subsequent corner.

The second half was in its infancy when Dundalk took complete control. A bouncing ball found its way to Kelly inside the penalty area and he made no mistake, leaving Burke helpless with a brilliant drive.

Ollie Horgan, who predicted his side would have a tough night, was up in arms when Caolan McAleer’s deflected effort was saved by Rogers, the Harps boss screaming that the shot came off Daniel Cleary’s arm.

Penalty? Dundalk’s Dane Massey is pushed in the back by Caolan McAleer of Finn Harps. Picture: Ciaran Culligan

Kelly ensured he went home with the match ball with eight minutes to go after a good team move involving Hoban and Sean Gannon and he should have had a fourth before the end but lost his footing just as he was ready to apply the finishing touch to a Hoban pass.

DUNDALK FC: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Sean Hoare, Brian Gartland (Daniel Cleary 11), Dane Massey; Chris Shields, Patrick McEleney (Joe McKee 71); Daniel Kelly, Jamie McGrath, Michael Duffy (John Mountney 81), Patrick Hoban. Subs not used: Aaron McCarey (GK), Jordan Flores, Georgie Kelly, Dean Jarvis

FINN HARPS: Ciaran Gallagher (Peter Burke 28); John Kavanagh, Keith Cowan, Sam Todd, Daniel O’Reilly; Mark Coyle (Michael Gallagher 74), Tony McNamee; Caolan McAleer, Raffaele Cretaro (Sean Boyd 56), Nathan Boyle; Mikey Place. Subs not used: Mark Russell, Liam Walsh, Stephen Doherty, Niall Logue.

REFEREE: Robert Harvey. ATTENDANCE: 2,616.