“Even in our own area, some TDs lost out by the narrowest of margins. If they were associated with our club and they were seen helping our club out, would that have made a difference to their numbers?” – Vinny Perth, February 2020.
On a night in which Vinny Perth called on the newly elected politicians to do more for the Irish football community, the Dundalk head coach quickly turned to focus on his own manifesto of the Dundalk FC of 2020. A lot has happened in the close season with high profile departures of Robbie Benson, Jamie McGrath, Dean Jarvis and Stephen Folan but the arrivals of note of Greg Sloggett, Will Patching, Cammy Smith and Serbian Stefan Čolović have meant that the party leader Perth has more arsenal to his cabinet.
Perth used tonight’s game to hand debuts tonight to Greg Sloggett and Cammy Smith. Sloggett who hails from Navan arrived at Dundalk via a stint in Derry City last season where he shone in central midfield. He didn’t have to wait long to face his former teammates in a competitive fixture, it seems history has a habit of reporting itself as last season he made his Derry debut facing his other former club UCD.
The champions flag was raised prior to tonight’s game and Derry wanted to use tonight’s match as a benchmark to see if they could be one of the sides to try and tear the flag from its mast in Oriel. The opening exchanges of chances fell to Ciaran Coll from a corner and Patrick Hoban from a Sean Gannon cross from the right but both goalbound efforts failed to trouble the keeper. Dundalk and Derry continued to trade blows but Dundalk appeals for a penalty following Dane Massey was brought down under pressure in the box but Neil Doyle waves the repeated cries away. Derry City piled on the pressure on a high Dundalk attack line with Jamie McDonagh coming close midway through the first half that saw his half volley hit the side netting. Pat Hoban looked to odds on to open his Dundalk account only for the back of Nielsen to deflect the ball over.
The second half opened with renewed impetus from the home side with Daniel Kelly with a brace of shots once of which cannoned off the crossbar. Nielsen responded with an effort that forced a brilliant save from Gary Rogers, Hoban at the other end was denied by a point-blank save by Cherrie. Cammy Smith was next on hand to test Cherrie only for his curling effort to be brilliantly tipped over the bar. Michael Duffy was next to test Cherrie with a low effort that was well held by the former Dundalk netminder.
The breakthrough came just before the 80th minute struck when from a corner, Flores headed the ball down to Massey who struck it brilliantly through a flurry of bodies and into the net. It was the perfect way to mark your 200th league start for Dundalk. Derry had a chance to reply when Nilsen crossed it into the area for Liddle but with the goal at his mercy but it just crept past him and wide. Both sides continued to press and despite a late rally from Derry, the home side held firm with the man of the match Andy Boyle holding the defensive line. There was almost late, late drama when a dangerous free kick was sent in by Derry City but a diving
Dundalk’s opening matches haven’t been kind to them in the last ten years with only three wins recorded on opening nights. Another box ticked on Vinny Perth’s ballot box.
Dundalk: Gary Rogers, Sean Gannon, Chris Shields, Michael Duffy, Patrick Hoban, Greg Sloggett (Jordan Flores 71), Dane Massey, Daniel Cleary, Cammy Smith (Will Patching 74), Daniel Kelly (Sean Hoare 86), Andy Boyle.
Dundalk Subs not used: Aaron McCarey, Brian Gartland, Darragh Leahy, Lido Lotefa.
Derry City: Derry City: Peter Cherrie, Jamie McDonagh, Eoin Toal, Ally Gilchrist, Ciaran Coll, Conor Clifford (Jack Malone 63), Conor McCormack, Danny Lupano, Ciaron Harkin (Steven Mallon 82), Walter Figueira (Adam Liddle 76), Tim Nilsen.
Derry Subs not used: Nathan Gartside, Colm Horgan, Moussa Bakayoko, Mark McChrystal.
Sent off: None
Man of the Match: Andy Boyle
Referee: Neil Doyle
Report by Ciarán Callan