Shamrock Rovers 0 Dundalk 2
Defending champions Dundalk left Tallaght with all three points following this deserved victory over 10-man Shamrock Rovers.
Darren Meenan’s ball deflected off Rovers defender David Webster to give Dundalk the lead on 16 minutes.
Rovers captain Gary McCabe was then sent off just after the half-hour mark for a rough challenge on Stephen O’Donnell before Ronan Finn added the second goal on 47 minutes.
It wasn’t all good news for Dundalk though, as O’Donnell limped off at half time and didn’t appear for the second half.
Rovers must regroup quickly though as they face a trip to Cork on Monday night to face Cork City in their rearranged fixture.
Rovers had enjoyed many of the better exchanges in the opening quarter-hour 24 but found themselves behind on 16 minutes.
Meenan’s ball flashed across the face of goal before taking a wicked deflection off Webster and zipping past Barry Murphy in the home goal.
Dundalk went close to doubling their lead on 27 minutes when Daryl Horgan was given too much time and space to run through the middle of the park.
He offloaded to David McMillan but McMillan’s subsequent shot was narrowly wide. It was all Dundalk now and after that Andy Boyle was first to Meenan’s corner kick but arrowed his header wide.
Rovers hadn’t really been in the game after going behind and their task was made much harder on 31 minutes when McCabe was shown a straight red by referee Neil Doyle for a reckless tackle on O’Donnell.
O’Donnell limped off the pitch on 45 minutes with what appeared to be a problem with his right ankle.
Robbie Benson was stripped and ready to replace him but, having spoken with manager Stephen Kenny, O’Donnell went back on for the two minutes of added time at the end of the half.
O’Donnell then limped down the tunnel at the break and it was no surprise when former UCD man Benson replaced the Dundalk captain at the start of the second period. Dundalk began the second 45 minutes with all guns blazing and increased their lead.
Former Rovers man Finn fired a brilliant shot past Murphy after getting on the end of a Meenan knock down after a fine Horgan cross
Chasing the game Rovers manager Pat Fenlon made a change on 52 minutes with the introduction of striker Danny North for Dean Clarke. But Dundalk continued to dominate and Rovers found it hard to get any meaningful supply to North.
At the other end a well-timed clearance off the line by Gavin Brennan on 68 minutes prevented Horgan from adding a third for the visitors.
Rovers had a glimmer of hope on 72 minutes when Simon Madden fired a low cross into the Dundalk box. All it needed was a touch from someone but the ball evaded everyone and rolled away to safety.
Shamrock Rovers: Murphy; Madden, Blanchard, Webster, G Brennan; Drennan (T Clarke 81 mins), K Brennan, Cregg, Miele; McCabe, D Clarke (North 52 mins).
Dundalk: Rogers; Gannon, Gartland, Boyle, Massey; Shields; Meenan (Mountney 77 mins), O’Donnell (Benson 45 mins), Horgan, Finn; McMillan (McEleney 72 mins).
Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin).
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