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Saturday 3 December 2016

Derry delight for the league leaders

Derry City 0-1 Dundalk

Dundalk’s Ciarán Kilduff (r) in action against Derry City’s Barry McNamee, during the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division clash at the Brandywell Stadium.
Dundalk’s Ciarán Kilduff (r) in action against Derry City’s Barry McNamee, during the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division clash at the Brandywell Stadium.
Stephen O'Donnelll, Dundalk, wins an aerial battle against Derry's Aaron McEneff
Dane Massey struggles to stay on his feet as he battles with Derry City's Ronan Curtis
Dundalk's Ciaran Kilduff goes to celebrate with Dane Massey after scoring his side's first goal

Their post-European hangover has yet to fully clear up, but Dundalk are getting the job done in their defence of the title, with an important but hard-earned 2-0 win away to Derry City last night keeping their lead at the top intact.

Since their Champions League exit last month the champions have lost some of their swagger with points dropped in the title race and a League Cup defeat.

A first-half goal from Ciarán Kilduff set them up in Derry last night and David McMillan added a second three minutes from time, though the game could have had a different outcome if City had not had Conor McCormack sent off in the first half.

But it turned out to be a very good night for Stephen Kenny's outfit as second-placed Cork City suffered a shock defeat at home to Limerick and Dundalk now turn their attention to a tough test at home to a rampant St Patrick's Athletic on Monday night.

Dundalk had most of the possession in the early stages but a tired-looking side were unable to cause any real threat to Ger Doherty's goal, and the best chance in those opening moments came to Derry defender Aaron Barry, who tested Gary Rogers with a fierce shot from distance.

But the game started to turn Dundalk's way after just 24 minutes when City had Conor McCormack sent off. The former St Patrick's Athletic man had been doing a good job in front of the Derry back four but referee Rob Harvey was most unimpressed with McCormack's challenge on Sean Gannon and Louth native McCormack received a straight red card, Derry assistant boss Paul Hegarty then sent to the stands for his protests at the dismissal.

Dundalk still looked sluggish and they almost conceded the lead goal three minutes before the break, Derry forward Mark Timlin testing Rogers with a good effort. It took the champions until well into injury time in the first half to get in front, Kilduff netting his second goal in three games for the side.

The Derry defence, shorn of McCormack's protection, was wide open and Kilduff had an easy finish after Dane Massey slid in a pass.

Forced to make a change at the break, with Ronan Curtis replacing the impressive Stephen Dooley, a ten-man Derry tried to battle their way back into the game, but they could have been 2-0 down on 55 minutes, only for John Mountney to shoot well wide after he had been set up by Kilduff.

Dundalk went closer on 66 minutes, City keeper Doherty saving a shot from Towell after good work by Mountney but sub McMillan popped up on 87 minutes to finish from Massey's through ball to wrap up the points.

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