St Patrick’s Athletic 1 Drogheda United 2
Dayle Rooney scored a virtuoso late winner to all but secure Drogheda United’s Premier Division status for next season as title-chasing St Patrick’s finished with nine men at Richmond Park.
Substitute Rooney advanced on to Darragh Markey’s 82nd-minute diagonal pass to strike a first-time volley from the edge of the area that arrowed past Dean Lyness for a simply stunning goal.
The result moves seventh-placed Drogheda 12 points clear of Cork City in the relegation playoff place with five games remaining.
It was a night to forget for out-of-sorts St Patrick’s, who had both Jake Mulraney and Sam Curtis sent off, as they remain third in the table, six points off leaders Shamrock Rovers.
Though St Patrick’s started brightly with Mark Doyle wasting an early chance, they fell behind to a freak goal on six minutes.
While captain Joe Redmond’s back pass had a trifle too much on it, instead of clearing first time, goalkeeper Lyness took a heavy touch.
That allowed Warren Davis to charge down the clearance with the ball ricocheting off the 18-year-old and into the net for a bizarre first league goal for the club.
Further sloppy play almost cost St Patrick’s again on eight minutes.
On this occasion Kian Leavy was a little too easily dispossessed by Adam Foley. The winger laid the ball into the path of Davis whose low drive was saved down to his left by Lyness.
St Pat’s soon regained the initiative as they chased an equaliser with Jay McCelland just off target with a free-kick on 20 minutes.
Doyle and Tommy Lonergan had half-chances before the pressure on the visitors’ goal told five minutes before half-time.
Drogheda captain Gary Deegan took a poor touch in attempting to control McClelland’s tame cross.
The ball dropped for Chris Forrester who was coolness personified as he strolled in to flick it past Andrew Wogan.
It was the midfielder’s 13th goal of the league season, six of which have come against Drogheda, to keep him top of the division’s scoring chart.
Doyle continued to have little luck in front of goal, firing straight at Wogan from Jamie Lennon’s superb cross five minutes into the second half.
St Patrick’s frustration mounted on 66 minutes when winger Mulraney, on as a half-time substitute, was sent off.
Booked for an initial foul on Davis, Mulraney’s foot was high on Rooney and he was shown a second yellow card and dismissed.
Rooney then delivered the killer blow with his wonder winner before defender Curtis was shown a straight red card for a studs up challenge on Ryan Brennan in stoppage time.
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Lyness; Curtis, Redmond, Norman, Breslin (Murphy, 88); Lennon, Leavy (McCormack, 67); McClelland (Mulraney, h-t), Forrester, Doyle (Nolan, 67); Lonergan (Melia, 76).
DROGHEDA UNITED: Wogan; Heeney, Keeley, Weir, Kane; Deegan, O’Brien; Foley (Rooney, 61), Markey, Davis (Wade-Slater, 71; Robinson (Brennan, 61).
Referee: David Dunne (Dublin).
Dundalk 5 Cork City 0
Dundalk claimed a record-breaking win over Cork City at Oriel Park to keep their European hopes alive and ease the pressure on manager Stephen O’Donnell.
Scrutiny was on both sides before the game following the Louth men’s three defeats on the spin, including their 4-0 FAI Cup thumping away to Galway Utd 10 days earlier, while Cork City needed a win to ease their relegation fears.
While the Lilywhites will face much tougher tests than this, the result keeps them in contention for a European place as they sit just three points behind Bohemians in fifth and four off Shelbourne in fourth – both of whom they still have to face in the closing five matches of the campaign.
For Cork City and Liam Buckley, this was as bad as they have been in some time. They needed to win this game in hand to keep the pressure on Sligo Rovers, who now sit nine points clear of them with just five games to go.
That means a relegation playoff is looking almost an inevitability for last season’s First Division winners.
They were never at the races as they fell behind after 18 minutes when Daryl Horgan’s free-kick was headed home by Hayden Muller.
Horgan then ended a run of 2,540 days since his last goal at Oriel Park, also against Cork, when he finished past Ollie Byrne from close range on 27 minutes to make it 2-0.
Horgan was then involved in the third goal on 33 minutes when his header back across goal was turned into his own net by Cian Coleman, who had also scored an own goal in his side’s defeat to Shelbourne on Friday.
Sam Durrant then added a brilliant fourth following a fine solo run on 55 minutes before John Martin completed the rout by heading home from Archie Davies’s cross three minutes from the end.
DUNDALK: Shepperd; Davies, Sloggett, Brownlie (Leahy, 77), Muller; Yli-Kokko (Mullen, 77), Doyle (Lewis, 45), Horgan (O’Kane, 62); Martin, Hoban (Elliott, 62), Durrant.
CORK CITY: Byrne; Bolger, Coleman, Gilchrist, Drinan (Honohan, 56); Kravchuk (Crowe, 81), Worman (Walker, h/t); Bargary, O’Brien Whitmarsh (Murphy, h/t), Dijksteel (Kabia, 56); Keating.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin (Monaghan).