Daniel Kelly ripped Finn Harps apart at Oriel Park last night with a first hat-trick of his career.
The Ringsend man scored in the 47th minute of either half before completing his treble in the 83rd minute to keep the champions within 10 points of league leaders Shamrock Rovers with a game to spare.
It capped a good week for Kelly who on Monday came off the bench to win the crucial 95th minute penalty against his former side Bohemians that saw the Lilywhites bounce to winning ways following successive defeats away to St Patrick’s Athletic and Sligo Rovers prior to that.
The first half was heavily disrupted by two serious looking injuries to Dundalk captain Brian Gartland and Finn Harps goalkeeper Ciaran Gallagher, which resulted in nine minutes being added on at the end of the half.
It was in the second minute of stoppage time that the breakthrough arrived as Kelly rifled home the opener from the edge of the box following Michael Duffy’s pull back from the left.
The former Bohemians player then doubled his side’s lead 100 seconds into the second half when he latched onto a loose ball in the box to fire high to the top left hand corner.
The hat-trick would duly arrive seven minutes from time. He was released on the right by a superb ball from Pat Hoban before exchanging passes with Sean Gannon to fire across Burke to the bottom left hand corner.
Rogers; Gannon, Gartland (Cleary 13), Hoare, Massey; Shields, McEleney (McKee 71); D Kelly, McGrath, Duffy (Mountney 80); Hoban.
C Gallagher (Burke 28); Kavanagh, Cowan, Todd, O’Reilly; McAleer, McNamee, Cretaro (Boyd 56), Coyle (M Gallagher 74), Boyle; Place.
R Harvey (Dublin).