Dundalk start title defence with win over Longford

Daryl Hogan scores for the champions in season opener at Oriel Park

Dundalk 1 Longford 0

Daryl Horgan’s 16th minute goal was enough for Dundalk to open their title defence with all three points but the champions were pushed all the way by newly promoted Longford Town at Oriel Park last night.

Horgan's strike won the game but just as important was Gary Rogers' last gasp save to deny Town centre-forward Gary Shaw from securing what would have been an unlikely point for Tony Cousins's side.

The Premier Division new boys looked assured early on with Conor Powell providing an outlet on the left and a couple of early deliveries tested the Dundalk central defensive pairing of Andy Boyle and Brian Gartland.

The champions, however, opened the midlanders up with a snappy attack after 16 minutes that led to the first goal of the 2015 season.

John Mountney set Ronan Finn away on the right and the former Shamrock Rovers man's low ball across goal was swept home by Horgan.

The visitors were dealt another blow 13 minutes later when goalkeeper Paul Hunt limped off with an injury. Former Athlone Town netminder Paul Skinner came on to replace him but he was relatively unemployed as Dundalk failed to build on the early lead.

The hosts cranked up the pressure in the early stages of the second-half.

Dane Massey’s knock down for David McMillan in the 53rd minute looked like it would lead to the second goal but Skinner did enough to block and the ball bounced away for a corner.

Another set piece five minutes later had Longford in trouble as Andy Boyle’s thumping header crashed back off the woodwork after taking a deflection off a red and black shirt on the way.

Horgan looked the most likely supplier of a second goal and it was another of his deliveries that had the hosts on the ropes, Brian Gartland seeing his header hacked off the line.

Longford played on Dundalk’s nerves late on and Rogers stood tall to deny David O’Sullivan with the game entering the final stages.

That looked to be the midlanders’ last chance of the night but Rogers had to push Shaw’s last gasp effort onto the bar to secure the win for his side.

Dundalk: Rogers; Gannon, Gartland, Boyle, Massey; Shields, Towell; Mountney, Finn (Barrett 89), Horgan; McMillan (Byrne 77).

Longford Town: Hunt (Skinner 29); Sullivan, Flynn, Tyrell, Powell, Shannon (O'Sullivan 61), Rice, Salmon, O'Connor, Deady (Ben Mohamed 74); Shaw.

Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin)

Attendance: 3336.