Hoban on target to end Ryan resistance

Pat Hoban’s 16th goal of the season could prove to be one of the most crucial of Dundalk’s season as his header six minutes from time earned the Louth men a huge victory over Limerick FC at Oriel Park last night.

Stephen Kenny’s side looked set for a night of frustration after being thwarted time and time again by a string of top-class saves from veteran goalkeeper Barry Ryan.

However, they avoided dropping points for a second consecutive week, following last week’s draw with neighbours Drogheda, when leading scorer Hoban stooped to head home a Darren Meenan corner in the 84th minute.

That ensured the Lilywhites maintain their four-point lead at the top of the table.

The victory means the border outfit still have room for error in their bid to bring a first league title to Oriel Park in 19 years.

This result will have done wonders for the side’s confidence with the celebrations of the 2,256 fans in attendance at the final whistle a clear indicator of just how important this result was.

After a sluggish star, they created the first clear-cut chance on 14 minutes.

Daryl Horgan cut in from the left touchline before slipping a wonderful pass through for the onrushing Dane Massey, but the left-back’s effort was well saved at point-blank range by the alert Ryan.

Robbie Williams threatened briefly for the Shannonsiders on 24 minutes when he headed an Ian Turner corner just wide, but that was about as good as it got in an attacking sense for Martin Russell’s men.

It was Dundalk who were creating all the chances, with Ryan getting down to turn a Richie Towell shot around the post two minutes later, after the midfielder had caught Shane Duggan in possession on the edge of the Limerick box.

Ryan then proved his side’s saviour once more on 37 minutes when he saved at close range with his legs from Kurtis Byrne after the 24-year-old had been slipped through by the excellent Hoban.

The goalkeeper would again deny Byrne at the start of the second half, with his header from six yards well saved low down following a cross from the right by Sean Gannon.

Substitute David McMillan then almost opened the scoring with a shot from the edge of the area soon after his introduction on 71 minutes, but once again Limerick goalkeeper Ryan got down well to save.

Just when it looked like Dundalk were going to endure a night of frustration, however, up popped leading scorer Hoban in six minutes from time to head home from four yards following an inswinging corner from Meenan.

DUNDALK: Cherrie; Gannon, Gartland, Boyle, Massey; Meenan, Shields (Higgins 79), Towell, Horgan; Byrne (McMillan 70), Hoban (Mountney 89).

LIMERICK: Ryan; Nzuzi, Oji, Folan, Williams; Turner (Tracy 85), Lynch, Duggan, Hughes, Doherty (Djilali 73); Gaffney (McManus 64).

Referee: R Rogers (Dublin).

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