UCD Bowled over by Lilies
Dundalk take season's tally of goals to 101 with UCD win
DUNDALK have broken through the 100-goal barrier for the season for the first time in their history.
But the statistic that matters is the three-point haul from last night's league game away to UCD, this 2-0 win thanks to goals from Richie Towell and Pat Hoban allowing Stephen Kenny's side keep intact that lead of three points over second-placed Cork City.
Cork fans and players will maintain that their side can still have a major say in the title race, CIty showing their ability and their grit by coming from a goal down to beat Sligo Rovers last night, and the Turner's Cross regulars also know that Cork travel to Dundalk on the last day of the season.
But Kenny's outfit look pretty much unstoppable now, especially as the Lilywhites' next game is against bottom side Athlone Town.
Last night at the UCD Bowl was not vintage stuff from Dundalk, the away side labouring at times to break down a UCD side who, given their own form (one point from the last five games for Aaron Callaghan's men) and what seems like an end-of-season revival by Athlone, appear to be heading for the automatic relegation slot.
Dundalk had scored nine times in their previous two meetings with UCD this seas on and the away fans at the UCD Bowl last night hoped for another flood of goals.
But it was a night for patience and perseverance. Dundalk did get their noses in front in the 10th minute, however through Richie Towell. Darren Meenan swung in a corner kick which eventually landed in range for Towell to shoot and the former Celtic man managed to get his shot past Conor O'Donnell in the UCD goal, though the strike did take a deflection along the way, but that mattered little as Dundalk claimed their 100th goal of the season in all competitions.
The home side had lots of possession but were not able to make keeper O'Donnell too concerned, and UCD even managed to threaten, Robbie Creevy forcing a save from Peter Cherrie midway through the first half.
Dundalk seemed to lack urgency in that first period and perhaps Kenny had words with his players at the break as they had more of a cutting edge in the second 45 minutes.
In the first five minutes of the second half Dane Massey and Darren Meenan looked dangerous, though their efforts were wide of the target.
On 55 minutes Sean Gannon, one of the Dundalk players being watched by a number of cross-channel scouts, tried to get in the box but was cut out by Hugh Douglas. and a minute later Kurtis Byrne shot wide.
Dundalk started to work UCD keeper O'Donnell a bit more after that, the Donegal-born netminder saving from Meenan on 61 minutes and again from Daryl Horgan on 67 minutes.
But there was nothing O'Donnell could do about Dundalk's second goal as leading scorer Pat Hoban cut inside and fired home to claim his 21st league goal of the season.
UCD had no way back into the game at this stage and, with news seeping through that their main rivals for the relegation spot Athloe were on their way to a hard-earned point away to Derry, the outlook is grim for the Students.
But the night did end on a sour note for the league leaders as former UCD man David McMillan was carried off just minutes after he had come on as a sub.
Manager Kenny did not have the option of replacing the striker as Dundalk had used all three subs by then but at this stage the win, the points and that lead at the top were all secure. And for Dundalk fans, all roads lead to Athlone for their next game.