DFC | Demolition Derby: Part III

SSE Airtricity League | Drogheda United 0–6 Dundalk FC

David McMillan and Patrick McEleney celebrate with the Dundalk FC supporters after McMillan’s opener at United Park. PICTURE: CIARAN CULLIGAN

After a 7–0 win over their neighbours in 2014 and a six-goal victory the season after, Dundalk added another instalment to their Demolition Derby compilation at United Park on Friday night.

Three-up at half-time, Stephen Kenny’s added another three in the second-half as they returned from the the SSE Airtricity League’s mid-season break in some style.

The goals came from David McMillan and Ciaran Kilduff — who both notched a brace apiece — with Michael Duffy and Patrick McEleney — with yet another goal of the season contender — condemning Pete Mahon’s side to a heavy defeat.

The gap at the top of the table might still be an insurmountable 18 points but with Europe on the horizon, the manner of this win should flood the Dundalk players with some much-needed confidence.

The hosts will point to the 31st-minute dismissal of Thomas Byrne as the moment the pendulum swung in Dundalk FC’s favour. Up to that point, there was very little between the sides. After it, there was only going to be one winner.

Kenny named Stephen O’Donnell and Thomas Stewart in his starting XI while he also rotated his central defensive pairing again with the fully fit Brian Gartland selected alongside Niclas Vemmelund. As a result, the back four looked a lot more balanced.

A deflected Patrick McEleney cross, gathered by Drogheda goalkeeper Stephen McGuinness, was the first opening of note. At the other end, Stephen Dunne flashed a volley wide after a clipped Killian Brennan corner fell kindly into his path.

The Drogs handed a first start to Ryan Masterson and the striker was fortunate to escape without a booking after an old-fashioned barge into Gary Rogers on the edge of the Dundalk FC penalty area.

And things started to get a bit spicier as the game ticked towards the half hour with the Drogheda players upset that O’Donnell escaped without censure after Sean Brennan went down in the middle of the park.

The natives became even more restless two minutes later when referee Derek Tomney did produce a card, dismissing Byrne for a crude lunge on McEleney right in front of the Dundalk FC bench.

Less than 15 minutes later, the result was put to bed.

McMillan grabbed his first of the night in the 37th minute, pouncing to steer home his 10th of the season after McGuinness failed to hold an O’Donnell drive.

The 28-year-old extended that tally three minutes later with another poacher’s finish, reacting quickest again to sweep home at the far post after a Vemmelund cross evaded the Drogheda goalkeeper.

McEleney put the icing on the cake just before the half-time whistle, cutting in from the left before placing a stunning effort into the top corner of McGuinness’ net. A sublime effort!

That three-goal lead could — and should — have been extended within 10 minutes of the restart with McMillan and Duffy both squandering gilt-edged chances. Sean Gannon and Robbie Benson then, quite literally, tried to walk the ball into the net with McGuinness left badly exposed.

Goal number four did arrive in the 59th minute as Tommy Stewart’s industry paid off, his header across the six-yard box rifled home in fine fashion by Michael Duffy.

And there was still time for two more with substitute Ciaran Kilduff adding a brace in the latter stages to give the champions an emphatic victory beside the Boyne.

DROGHEDA UNITED: Stephen McGuinness; Colm Deasy, Ciaran McGuigan, Luke Gallagher, Stephen Dunne; Ryan McEvoy, Killian Brennan (Sean Thornton HT), Adam Wixted, Sean Brennan, Thomas Byrne; Ryan Masterson (Stephen Elliott 73). Subs not used: Ryan Coulter (GK), Sean Thornton, Conor Kane, Mark Doyle, Richie Purdy.

DUNDALK FC: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Niclas Vemmelund, Dane Massey; Stephen O’Donnell, Robbie Benson (Chris Shields 76); Michael Duffy (Jamie McGrath 61), Patrick McEleney, Thomas Stewart; David McMillan (Ciaran Kilduff 73). Subs not used: Gabriel Sava (GK), Paddy Barrett, Sean Hoare, Conor Clifford.

REFEREE: Derek Tomney.

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