A goal in either half from Gary Shanahan earned Dundalk the victory at Flancare Park on Tuesday night of last week and ended Longford Town’s participation in this year’s EA Sports Cup.
It had all started so well for the Town; taking an early lead but Dundalk levelled 11 minutes later and then got what proved to be the winning goal eight minutes after the break.
In recent years the majority of league managers use this competition to give fringe players the opportunity to impress. For this game the Town made six changes from the team that defeated Limerick 2-1 in the league the previous week while Dundalk made five changes from the side that drew 0-0 with Shelbourne.
The Town took the game to Dundalk right from the start and broke the deadlock in the 3rd minute. Michael Lee’s long throw-in was cleared but only to the feet of Sean Skelly and he blasted the ball past opposing keeper Ger Hanley from just outside the box.
Although the home side settled well Dundalk still looked dangerous on the break and in the 14th minute Shanahan had a chance to level matters but his low drive just went inches wide.
Eight minutes later the young striker found the back of the net. Longford keeper Paul Hunt came rushing off his line to make a good save from Michael Rafter but the breaking ball fell to Shanahan and he was able to direct his shot into the net.
Karl Bermingham should have restored their lead for Longford in the 26th minute but his shot just went agonisingly wide. Town defender Graham Dowling then headed over the bar in the 29th minute while Skelly’s free-kick from 25 yards out was just off target.
The Town were left to rue those missed chances during that dominant spell because after the break Dundalk were a different proposition. With eight minutes gone on the changeover the visitors took the lead; Steven McDonnell laid the ball off to Shanahan and he found the back of the net.
The goal gave the visitors the momentum and Luke Danville came close to extending their lead in the 71st minute when his powerful header came crashing back off the crossbar.
The Town pressed hard for the equaliser in the closing stages of the game with Gary Shaw forcing Dundalk keeper Hanley into making two fine saves and right at the end Mark Salmon had a chance but he hit the sidenetting.
LONGFORD TOWN: Paul Hunt; Graham Dowling, Des Hope, Chris Deans, Gary Cronin; Sean Skelly, Alan Kirby, Colm James, Michael Lee; Karl Bermingham, Daniel Purdy.
Subs:- Mark Salmon for Hope (injured 55 mins); Gary Shaw for Purdy (67 mins); Jack Morley for Lee (79 mins).
DUNDALK: Ger Hanley; Cian Burke, Liam Burns, Luke Danville, Dan Cunningham; Robert Waters, Chris Shields, Steven McDonnell, John Mountney; Gary Shanahan, Michael Rafter.
Subs:- Chris Reilly for Rafter (59 mins); Shane O’Neill for Shanahan (79 mins); Peter Thomas for Mountney (81 mins).
Referee: Richie Winter