Drogheda United 3-2 Dundalk

November 7, 2018

Match Report by Ciaran D’Arcy

A performance of exquisite character and resolve saw Drogheda United overturn a two goal deficit to emerge triumphant in an epic Louth derby at Hunky Dorys Park on Friday night.

Drogheda boss Mick Cooke resisted the temptation to make wholesale changes after an unconvincing performance against Wexford Youths last week, with Derek Prendergast, Declan O’Brien and Alan Byrne the only changes to the starting XI.

Mark Griffin’s mesmerising solo effort gave Dundalk an early lead, before the promising striker doubled his and his team’s tally on 25. Peter Hynes’ curling effort on 31 sparked hopes of a Drogheda revival, before two late goals on 86 and 92 from Hynes and substitute John Sullivan sparked scenes of unbridled jubilation amongst the claret and blue support.

Magic Mark

With the game just four minutes old, Dundalk’s hottest young property produced a goal of sheer class.

Having cheekily dinked the ball over the head of his opponent, Griffin proceeded to turn the Drogs defence inside out before unleashing a perfectly placed shot into the top corner of Gabriel Sava’s net.

Dundalk looked in fine fettle following their cup demolition of Malahide, and the home side had to wait until the 12th minute to register their maiden effort, but Hynes swept his shot disappointingly wide following an intelligent centre from Tiarnán Mulvenna.

After three relatively tame efforts from the industrious Ryan Brennan, the Lilywhites were back on the offensive, and Dundalk native Griffin completed his brace on 25.

An incisive break from the visitors saw them exploit Drogheda’s high defensive line as Michael Rafter’s pass sent Griffin haring towards goal. Having squared for strike partner Rafter, Griffin was quickest to the rebound as Philip Hand, who had done admirably to block Rafter’s effort, could do nothing to prevent the forward from slotting home.

From the Embers

By now the life was visibly ebbing away from Drogheda’s challenge, but the hosts’ fortunes were rejuvenated on 31 through ex-Lilywhite Hynes.

Following the breakdown of a previous attack, Ryan Brennan demonstrated acute awareness as he played a quick throw to Hynes, whose snap curling effort from distance had Peter Cherrie beaten all ends up as it nestled in the far corner of the goal.

Sensing a possible revival, the home side continued to push for the rest of the half but despite virtually monopolising possession, they failed to produce a reasonable opening in what proved to be a disingenuous prelude to a frenetic second half.

After saving Paul Crowley’s toe-poked volley three minutes after the restart, Cherrie was again left helpless as Mulvenna slotted what seemed like the equaliser beyond his grasp on 49, only for captain Paul Shields to hack the Muirheavnamor man’s goal-bound effort off the line.

Further frustration was to follow for the hosts on 51 as, having deceived the entire defence, goalscorer Hynes’ lack of pace was exposed, and the big number 15 was forced into an early shot which went harmlessly wide.

Late Late Show

Sensing the imminent danger to their now precarious lead, Dundalk resumed their offensive on the Drogheda goal, leading to Rafter’s rasping effort on 69 which took a lick of paint with it as it skimmed over the crossbar.

Refocused on the task at hand, and with all three substitutions made to aid the cause, the Drogs began to exert yet more pressure on a beleaguered-looking away defence.

And that pressure almost told on 81 as Hand, who had wasted several promising free-kick opportunities before this, curled a sumptuous 25-yard effort towards the Dundalk goal which was denied only by a miraculous flying save from Cherrie.

As the clock ticked to 86 the Dundalk bench remained redundant of activity, and with the visitors now looking decidedly weary from their prior exertions, the inevitable equaliser arrived.

Although not normally renowned for his crossing ability, Alan Byrne’s searching ball from deep on the right wing caught Hynes’ run into the box perfectly, allowing the veteran striker to nod home a trademark header to the raucous acclaim of the home support.

Already ecstatic from a remarkable salvage operation, the Windmill Road faithful were in dreamland on 92 as, with time nearly up, an identical cross from Hand on the left side of the pitch found the unmarked Sullivan who demonstrated commendable composure to sidefoot his first-time effort assuredly past Cherrie’s despairing dive to secure what will surely rank among the sweetest three points of the United players’ careers.

Drogheda United:
1 Gabriel Sava
3 Philip Hand
4 Derek Prendergast
8 Ryan Brennan (Brady 71)
9 Tiarnán Mulvenna
15 Peter Hynes
16 Paul Crowley ©
17 Brian Gannon
19 Declan O’Brien (S. Brennan 79)
22 Eric Foley (Sullivan 71)
28 Alan Byrne
Subs not used:
Michael Schlingermann
Stephen Quigley
Connor McMahon
Jason Marks

1 Peter Cherrie
2 Derek Foran
6 Chris Shields ©
7 Mark O’Brien
8 John Mountney
9 Michael Rafter
10 Lorcan Shannon
11 Mark Griffin
18 Gary Shanahan
19 Stephen Maher
25 Eoghan Osbourne
Subs not used:
Nathan Murphy
Peter Thomas
Liam Burns
Paul Whelan
Chris Reilly
Bob McKenna
Philip McCabe

Drogheda 18
Dundalk 13

Drogheda 9
Dundalk 5

Yellow cards:
Drogheda 3 (Paul Crowley, Ryan Brennan, Alan Byrne)
Dundalk 3 (John Mountney, Mark O‘Brien, Chris Shields)

Referee: Anthony Buttimer Man of the Match: Peter Hynes