Dundalk put Finn Harps to the sword in Ballybofey as they ran out with a 3-0 victory at Finn Park on Saturday evening.
By Shaun Keenan at Finn Park. Pictures by Joe Boland, North West News Pix
Finn Harps 0 Dundalk 3
Goals from Michael Duffy and John Mountney had Vinny Perth’s men on their way to a clear five-point lead at the top of the league table.
Gartland put the result beyond any doubt 28 minutes from time with a thundering header.
Leading through Michael Duffy’s 32nd-minute opener, Dundalk effectively wrapped the win up before half-time.
Dundalk almost got off the mark after a minute when Chris Shields sent Patrick Hoban on his way.
The league’s top scorer had a decent effort on goal and with Michael Duffy cantering in at the back post, Dundalk looked like they would take an early lead but it went for a goal kick.
Ollie Horgan made four changes to the side that played out an eight-goal thriller against Bohemians two weeks prior with Mark Anthony-McGinley, Mark Russell, Mark Coyle and Liam Walsh all drafted into the starting XI.
Dundalk, on the other hand, only made two changes with Dean Jarvis and Sean Hoare making way for Dane Massey and Brian McGartland.
The visitors got off to a hugely impressive start. A fifth-minute counter-attack from Sean Gannon and Patrick McEleney tore through the heart of the Harps defence but Hoban couldn’t divert his nodded effort on target.
Dundalk went close again after 24 minutes, Hoban again threatening from the back post but, again, with no end product, McGinely collecting with relative ease.
With Harps on thin ice, it was only a matter of time, and the deadlock was broken after 32 minutes.
Derry man Michael Duffy powered in a header from John Mountney’s perfectly-placed cross to give his side a well-deserved lead.
As the half wore on, Dundalk began to spread their wings. Patrick McEleney and John Mounteny were wreaking havoc, and the Ballybofey side were struggling to keep tabs on reigning champions.
Nonetheless, Dundalk were full value for their 2-0 lead at the break.
Two minutes before the interval, McGinley failed to clear the danger when he got a palm to Mountney powerful header after he took receipt of Patrick McEleney’s inviting ball into the area and, with Mountney lurking, Dundalk doubled their lead.
After an uninspiring opening after the break, the game once again sparked into life as Perth’s side got their third – once again coming from a crossed ball.
The returning Brian Gartland, who scored against Harps in their meeting at Finn Park in February, powered in a header from Jordan Flores perfectly-placed free-kick to ensure his side increased their lead at the top of the league table.
Try as they might, Harps could not claw their way back into the tie. Mikey Place and a long-effort from Daniel O’Reilly gathered some form of momentum, but the Dundalk defence limited Harps for most of the game.
It was a sobering, yet expected defeat for Ollie Horgan’s side, Harps fifth straight in all competitions, and with two games more played than ninth place UCD.
Finn Harps: Mark Anthony McGinley; Daniel O’Reilly, Jacob Borg, Keith Cowan, Raff Cretaro (Nathan Boyle 62′); Mark Russell, Mark Coyle, Mikey Place, Liam Walsh (Mark Timlin 60′), Sam Todd; Niall Logue (Gareth Harkin 71′)
Unused subs: Peter Burke, Colm Deasy, Stephen Doherty, Tony McNamee
Dundalk: Gary Rodgers; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Chris Shields (Jordan Flores 88′), Michael Duffy (Georgie Kelly 66′); John Mountney (Daniel Kelly 75′), Patrick Hoban, Patrick McEleney, Dane Massey, Daniel Clearly
Unused subs: Aaron McCarey, Sean Hoare, Stephen Folan, Dean Jarvis.Tags: