by Shane Callaghan
10-man Drogheda United slumped to a heavy 7-0 defeat to Dundalk in the 155th Louth derby at Oriel Park tonight.
Goals in either half from Sean Gannon and Daryl Horgan had given the hosts a comfortable two-goal lead on 51 minutes.
However, a second yellow card for Eric Foley saw Stephen Kenny’s side put their local rivals to the sword by adding no fewer than five further goals.
To add insult to injury, the seven-goal haul also propelled the Lilywhites to the summit of the SSE Airtricity League, while Robbie Horgan’s men remain seventh.
Horgan made four changes in total from the team that beat Bohemians 1-0 on Friday to end a seven-game winless streak.
Alan McNally returned from suspension to partner Paul Andrews at the heart of United’s defence, while there were also starting berths for Gavan Holohan and Declan O’Brien – the latter of whom hit a hat-trick in the reverse fixture back in March.
The hosts missed two chances to kick off the derby in style as Horgan forced Dave Ryan into a smart save after two minutes, while Brian Gartland failed to keep a Darren Meenan corner under the crossbar shortly after.
Wave after wave of Dundalk attack soon followed but the Lilywhites finally broke the deadlock shortly before the half-hour mark through Gannon.
Dane Massey surged into the area before pulling back for the advancing Gannon, who tapped past Ryan for his second of the season.
The visitors came within the width of the woodwork from restoring parity as Foley saw his free kick bounce off the post early in the second half.
It proved a key moment in the contest as Dundalk doubled their advantage minutes later through Horgan, who was on hand to convert the rebound after Kurtis Byrne’s initial effort was saved by Ryan.
It went from bad to worse for Drogheda immediately as Foley was issued with a second yellow card by referee Thomas Connolly for dissent following the goal. The dismissal proved the catalyst as the floodgates soon opened.
Second-half substitute Paul Crowley – who spent a year at Dundalk – marked his return to Oriel Park in unfortunate fashion as the midfielder headed over Ryan for the hosts’ third of the evening.
Andrew Boyle prodded home the fourth following another menacing Meenan corner, while David McMillan and Richard Towel added gloss to the scoreline.
With four minutes remaining, McMillan bagged his brace by slotting home a Keith Ward pass as ruthless Dundalk claimed the bragging rights and banished the memories of losing 4-1 at United Park in this season’s curtain-raiser.
If there was anything to take the edge off the defeat, it was the performance of Ciaran McGuigan who never let his head drop throughout the night’s events and the young midfielder, Sean O’Connor who made his first team debut tonight, replacing Declan O’Brien with 10 minutes to go.
by Robert O'Reilly
Drogheda United will be looking to derail the title challenge of their neighbours Dundalk when the two sides meet tonight at Oriel Park, kick-off 7.45pm.
United will go into the game with renewed confidence following a 1-0 victory over Bohemians last Friday, their first victory in eight games. That result lifted the Drogs up to 7th in the table, five places and eleven points behind their local rivals.
Drogheda have several absentees for the short trip north as Stephen Maher, Michéal Schlingermann and Cathal Brady are all missing due to injury. Gavin Brennan will also be unavailable as he serves the first game of a two match additional ban for his red card in the EA Sports Cup defeat to Shamrock Rovers.
Both Michael Daly and Shane Grimes are rated as doubtful but Alan McNally returns to the side having missed the game against Bohemians due to suspension.
As for the hosts, the Lilywhites know that a victory will put them top of the SSE Airtricity League table and they come into the game in impressive form. A 2-1 victory away to Limerick last Friday was the perfect follow-up to their comprehensive 4-0 thrashing of Cork City at the start of the month.
Dundalk will be without their captain Stephen O’Donnell, who will miss the remainder of the season, while midfielder John Mountney is a doubt with a groin strain.
This will be the second Louth derby of 2014 following the opening day of the season when Drogheda destroyed Dundalk 4-1 courtesy of goals from Eric Foley, Gavin Brennan and a Declan O’Brien double in one of the shock results of the season so far.
Speaking on Monday. Drogheda United manager Robbie Horgan acknowledged that his side are underdogs going into the game.
“Two games in four days is never ideal with the size of our squad but that has been compounded with the injuries and suspensions that we have at the moment. It is what it is and we still have a strong eleven to put out onto the pitch. Dundalk will be big favourites but we go there knowing that we have already beaten them this season so that will give us confidence.
“I’m sure revenge will be on a lot of minds in Dundalk considering what happened on the opening night of the season. Nobody expected that, none more so than myself. Football is so unpredictable and that was certainly a prime example. Since that game Dundalk have been really good and deserve to be where they are in the league table.
“The victory against Bohemians moves us up to seventh in the table but I think we can aim as high as sixth. I expect Sligo Rovers to break into that top five and it is clear already that those sides are starting to pull away from the rest so we want to finish on top of that mini league.”
Kurtis Byrne (Keith Ward 80’)
Daryl Horgan (Mark Griffin 73’)
Pat Hoban (David McMillan 64’)
Carl Walshe (Paul Crowley 57’)
Declan O’Brien (Sean O’Connor 79’)
Gary O’Neill (Philly Hughes 73’)
Sean Gannon 29’
Daryl Horgan 51’
Paul Crowley Own Goal 62’
Andrew Boyle 73’
David McMillan 74’
Richard Towell 77’
David McMillan 86’
Eric Foley (yellow) 38’ 51’ (red) 51’
Shane Grimes (yellow) 56’