Hoban strike rocks Rovers
PAT HOBAN pounced to provide Dundalk with three valuable points in their quest for the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division crown against fellow title-chasers Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium.
The Galway man struck for the only goal of the game on 66 minutes to give the Lilywhites their third win in four games against the Hoops this season.
This eagerly-anticipated tie started with a plethora of fouls resulting in the game lacking any real flow and it was Hoban who brought the first save of the game out of Rovers' keeper Barry Murphy.
Rovers striker Dean Kelly tried his luck from a tight angle with a quick shot on the right following Eamon Zayed's cutback but the effort was always going wide, as was an intelligent Danr Massey pass at the other end that Kurtis Byrne failed to connect with.
Simon Madden got forward for Rovers down the right-hand flank well and cut in on to his left but the local man's effort sailed into old teammate Peter Cherrie's arms.
The Scotsman was quick out of his goal to cut out the threat of Zayed after Chris Shields' header back but the goalkeeper was retreating behind his goal to retrieve the ball when Ryan Brennan tamely headed Gary McCabe's free-kick wide.
It took until the last action of the half for the best chance to arrive when Dundalk finally got a neat passing move going, Hoban curling the ball wide for Darren Meenan who set up the onrushing Richie Towell but he was denied by a strong stop from Murphy.
The second half started in a similar vein, albeit with less fouls, but with the same tension in the general play and each side defending comfortably, restricted chances to a premium, Daryl Horgan and Brian Gartland sending efforts over the top. Rovers were not without chances too but they were all few and far between, until a lucky break on 66 minutes.
The ball fell favourably for Meenan midway between halfway and the Rovers goal where he picked out Byrne on the right. Byrne then sent the most enticing of low balls to the back post where Hoban pounced to notch his 10th league goal of the campaign.
With 15 minutes to go, Dundalk should have been 2-0 in front when Towell found himself in front of Murphy with just the goalkeeper to beat after a brilliant ball over the top from debutant Donal McDermott, but the former St Pat's keeper stuck out his left hand to save and then clawed it off the line as the ball bounced back towards his goal.
Rovers put pressure on Dundalk in their pursuit of an equaliser, with substitute Ciaran Kilduff blasting a volley over the top after beating the offside trap, while Hoban shaved the post for the Lilwyhites with five minutes to go with a volley of his own.
That miss mattered little nine minutes later when Paul McLaughlin's whistle sounded to signal the end of a brilliant Dundalk victory, only their second ever in the league against Rovers in Tallaght Stadium.