DFC | Murray catches the eye as Dundalk FC dismantle Drogs to win Malone Cup

2019 Jim Malone Cup | Dundalk FC 5–1 Drogheda United

Life after Stephen Kenny? On the evidence of Dundalk’s first game of 2019, it looks like business as usual after the Lilywhites swept Drogheda United away with consummate ease to win the Malone Cup for the fifth year on the spin.

After a long winter of change at Oriel Park, this was the first opportunity for supporters to run the rule over Vinny Perth’s Dundalk and it proved to be well worth the wait as the Lilywhites produced a scintillating first-half display to rip the Drogs to pieces.

Georgie Kelly, Kenny’s last signing as Dundalk manager, helped himself to a 16-minute hat-trick while Michael Duffy also carried on where he left off last year with a brace but it was the performance a new boy, former Watford midfielder Sean Murray, that was the main topic of conversation afterwards.

Operating in an advanced role, the 25-year-old former Irish underage international oozed class in the first half — supplying two of the goals — and he looked very much at home in unfamiliar surroundings. At this moment in time, he is still under contract with Danish club Vejle Boldklub but if Dundalk can add him to their ranks he will add bundles of quality to a squad lacking in numbers in the middle of the park.

Another new midfielder, Jordan Flores, who has been handed Stephen O’Donnell’s number six shirt, sat things out but two of Perth’s other new recruits, Daniel Kelly and Aaron McCarey, were named on the bench with both coming on to make their debut in the second half. At that stage, the trophy was as good as in the trophy cabinet with Dundalk 5–0 up and superior in every department.

The opener came after just seven minutes when Kelly, wearing the number 12 shirt, tapped home a Duffy cross that was crying out to be put away and Murray was instrumental in the second, rounding off a brilliant move on the right to put the ball on a platter for Duffy in the 12th minute.

Duffy and Kelly combined for goal number three in the 22nd minute, the latter going airborne to hook home a corner from last year’s PFAI Player of the Year and the former UCD man claimed the match ball by completing a 16-minute hat-trick when he turned home another Murray delivery.

Duffy made it 5–0, driving a Kelly pass inside Paul Skinner’s near post with just 29 minutes on the clock and even though Dundalk continued to flood forward in droves at every opportunity, the hapless Boynesiders made it through to the break without conceding any further goals.

Perth rang the changes in the second half and, understandably, the intensity of Dundalk’s performance tailed off. Kelly, however, would have made it six when he raced on to a Daniel Kelly pass only to lift the ball over the top of Skinner’s crossbar and the Drogs pulled one back when Luke Gallagher headed home after a corner deceived McCarey and came back off the post.

Dundalk captain Chris Shields was presented with the Jim Malone Cup after the game as Dundalk started 2019 in the same way they finished 2018: winning trophies.

The more things change, the more they stay the same….

DUNDALK FC: Gary Rogers (Aaron McCarey HT); Sean Gannon, Sean Hoare (Stephen Folan HT), Daniel Cleary, Dean Jarvis (Dane Massey HT); Chris Shields (Dylan Hand 79), Sean Murray; John Mountney (Daniel Kelly 56); Michael Duffy (Luke Gorham 84), Patrick McEleney (Lido Lotefa 75), Georgie Kelly (Patrick Hoban 67). Subs not used: James Carroll, Ross Treacy (GK).

DROGHEDA UNITED: Paul Skinner, James Brown, Conor Kane, Mark Hughes, Kevin Farragher, Luke Gallagher, Adam Wixted (Janabi Armour 68), Sean Brennan, Chris Lyons, Thomas Byrne (Cian Kavanagh 60), Mark Doyle. Subs not used: Luca Gratzer, Stephen Meaney, Luke McNally, Sean Trimble.

REFEREE: Colin Halligan.

Best Betting Sites in Ireland

Best Betting Apps in Ireland