Dundalk 3 Derry City 1: Daryl Horgan lit up Oriel Park as Dundalk came from behind against Derry City to move eight points clear at the top of the table last night.
The 24-year-old might not have scored himself but he set up two goals and lit up the ground from start to finish to show that the “hectic schedule” that saw him omitted from yesterday’s Republic of Ireland squad for next month’s World Cup qualifers was not affecting him in the slightest.
It had looked like Stephen Kenny’s title-chasing side could be in for a frustrating night when Lucas Schubert fired the visitors ahead after just six minutes.
However, two goals in the space of four minutes from John Mountney and Brian Gartland had the Lilywhites back in front before David McMillan secured the win after latching onto the pass of the night from Horgan on 59 minutes.
The result puts Dundalk eight points clear, albeit second-placed Cork City have two matches to spare, including tonight’s trip to face Sligo Rovers in The Showgrounds.
There was a high-octane start to the game, with Kenny Shiels’ visitors unexpectedly hitting the front after just six minutes.
Rory Patterson did well to hold the ball up under pressure from Andy Boyle and Gartland with Barry McNamee latching onto his lay off on the left to get a shot away. Gary Rogers could only push it partially clear with Dane Massey’s subsequent slip allowing Schubert to steal in to score.
If anything that angered the champions who responded with wave after wave of attack that led to a 13th minute equaliser. Horgan broke down the left, holding off Conor McDermott before beating the full back. His cross just evaded McMillan but Mountney latched onto it to take a touch and drill low and hard to the bottom left hand corner of the net for his second goal of the campaign.
Within four minutes Dundalk were in front. McMillan found some space on the left with his effort from an acute angle being pushed around the post by Ger Doherty. Mountney’s corner was then met by the inrushing Dane Massey, whose header crashed off the crossbar only for the rebound to be nodded home by Gartland.
McEleney then had two chances to extend his side’s lead before the break but was denied on two occasions by Doherty, with his second attempt on 33 minutes being pushed clear at his near post by the goalkeeper with Horgan unlucky not to pounce on the follow up.
Both sides pressed hard in the early stages of the second half without a real chance of note before the third goal arrived just before the hour mark. Horgan played a superb ball through the middle for McMillan to latch onto with the striker beating Max Karner for pace to fire it low and hard first time to the bottom left hand corner for his 20th goal in all competitions this season.
Dundalk pushed hard for a fourth after that with Massey going closest but it never arrived. It mattered little. The points were Dundalk’s, the plaudits all Horgan’s.
Rogers; Gannon, Gartland, Boyle, Massey; Mountney (Shields 75), Finn, O’Donnell (Benson 80), Horgan; McEleney; McMillan (Kilduff 72). Subs not used: Barrett, Shiels, Meenan, Sava.
Doherty; McDermott, Vemmelund, Karner (Doherty 65), Jarvis; Schubert, McCormack, McEneff, Curtis (Boyle 76), McNamee; Patterson. Subs not used: Monaghan, Ward, Daniels, Castells, Patton.
P McLaughlin (Monaghan).
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