DFC | Duffy’s delightful free-kick sets Dundalk FC on their way to victory
SSE Airtricity League | St Patrick’s Athletic 0–2 Dundalk FC
Michael Duffy’s stunning free-kick set Dundalk on their way to a comfortable win against St Patrick’s Athletic at Richmond Park.
The former Celtic winger left Conor O’Malley helpless with a beautifully hit effort in the 21st minute that gave Stephen Kenny’s side a well-deserved lead at the break.
Pat’s huffed and puffed without ever really looking like they would get back into it and David McMillan secured the win for the reigning champions in the 68th minute.
Dundalk remain 15 points adrift of leaders Cork City, who they meet at Oriel Park next Friday night, but this result leaves Pat’s sitting bottom of the table and mired in relegation trouble.
Inchicore basked in warm sunshine at kick off and the opening was just as bright with JJ Lunney flashing a drive wide from the edge of the Dundalk penalty area early on.
Dundalk tested O’Malley for the first time in the 13th minute when captain Stephen O’Donnell cut in on his left foot to curl a tame effort at the goalkeeper.
The visitors hit the front eight minutes later as Pat’s backed themselves into a corner by needlessly giving up possession outside their penalty area.
Gavin Peers hauled David McMillan to the ground and Duffy stepped up to bend a spectacular free-kick past the helpless O’Malley.
Kenny’s side took complete control after that as they went in search of a second and Duffy rifled a low drive at O’Malley after a good break by O’Donnell into the Saints’ penalty area.
The young Pat’s goalkeeper then made two fine saves in quick succession, blocking initially from Patrick McEleney after the Derryman danced his way into the penalty area.
The second was even better, the incoming O’Donnell, who raided forward at every opportunity, seeing his goalbound effort kept out by O’Malley’s legs.
Pat’s struggled to get a foothold but their fans were given some encouragement before the break when Darragh Markey fired straight at Gary Rogers following a well-worked move.
The hosts opened the second half on the front foot by pinning Dundalk back and Gary Rogers had to deal with a deflected Kurtis Byrne volley in the 48th minute.
O’Donnell limped off three minutes later but Dundalk regained their momentum and McEleney sent a fizzing drive just wide of the target.
O’Malley then gathered a McMillan attempt on the hour mark after Ian Bermingham — making his 300th appearance for Pat’s — failed to deal with a crossfield ball by McEleney.
Dundalk needed a second to give themselves some breathing space and it arrived in the 68th minute when McMillan turned cleverly on the edge of the penalty area before finding the bottom corner.
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Conor O’Malley; Michael Barker, Gavin Peers, Rory Feely, Ian Bermingham; Patrick Cregg (Graham Kelly 65), Lee Desmond (Alex O’Hanlon 73); JJ Lunney, Darragh Markey Kurtis Byrne (Conan Byrne 80); Christy Fagan. Subs not used: Barry Murphy, Sam Verdon, Josh O’Hanlon, Billy Dennehy.
DUNDALK FC: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Paddy Barrett, Niclas Vemmelund, Dane Massey; Chris Shields, Stephen O’Donnell (Robbie Benson 51); Michael Duffy (Conor Clifford 87), Patrick McEleney, Jamie McGrath; David McMillan (Ciaran Kilduff 84). Subs not used: Gabriel Sava (GK), Brian Gartland, Sean Hoare, Thomas Stewart.
REFEREE: Sean Grant. ATTENDANCE: 1,436.