Dundalk 1 Shamrock Rovers 0
There were fireworks on and off the pitch at Oriel Park on Friday night as Seán Murray hit a real cracker to ease Dundalk’s relegation worries with a huge win over tabletoppers Shamrock Rovers.
With four former players in the Hoops line-up the home crowd threw fake money and a pig’s head on to the pitch in the opening stages as well as demonstrating against their American owners.
While there is uncertainty around the Louth club, this was a night like old as Vinny Perth’s side produced a superb performance to claim a win that lifts them up to sixth in the table – albeit with a game more played than those around them – but five points clear of the dreaded promotion/relegation spot.
The hosts started brightly and were unlucky not to take the lead on six minutes when Darragh Leahy had a shot cleared off the line by Lee Grace.
Rovers then had strong penalty appeals turned down on 12 minutes when Aaron Greene broke to the endline on the right. He was then taken out by Andy Boyle as he pulled the ball back to Richie Towell but the officials were caught ball watching as the former Lilywhites midfielder pulled his effort wide.
The breakthrough then arrived on 32 minutes when Murray was slipped in on goal by Patrick Hoban before slotting past Alan Mannus for his sixth goal in his last nine matches.
Rovers had a series of chances before the break to level matters with Towell having an effort cleared off the line by Murray before Peter Cherrie made a stunning save to deny Dylan Watts but Dundalk shut up shop in the second half to put Rovers' title bid – still nine points clear – on hold at least.
DUNDALK: Cherrie; Dummigan, Cleary, Boyle, Leahy; Sloggett, Stanton; Murray (Ben Amar, 85), Patching (Animasahun, 92), Duffy (Han, 94), Hoban.
SHAMROCK ROVERS: Mannus; Gannon, Hoare, Grace; Finn, O'Neill (Gaffney, 68), Towell, Cotter (Farrugia, 54); Watts, Greene (Emakhu, 81), Mandriou.
Referee: Rob Harvey (Dublin).