Match report by James Rogers – @DundalkJames.
A new era at Oriel Park got off to a winning start as Dundalk proved too strong for Cabinteely in their first pre-season outing of the year tonight.
Despite having first half goals from new signings Ronan Murray and Stephen Folan cut out by a brace from Conor Early, the Lilywhites showed their class in the second half with strikes from Michael Duffy and Dylan Connolly securing a deserved win.
The one downside to the result was an injury to goalkeeper Gary Rogers which saw him substituted late in the opening half. The 36-year-old failed to finish his first game of pre-season last year, ironically also a 4-2 win over St Pat’s CY in the Leinster Senior Cup, and Stephen Kenny will be hoping it is not a serious injury just three and a half weeks out from the start of the season.
A large crowd turned out to see the club’s new additions in their first match since the American based Peak6 takeover and they would have instantly warmed to Murray as he opened the scoring on five minutes with a stunning strike from range that crashed to the net off the inside of the post.
Pat Devlin’s visitors, tackling Dundalk for the first-time ever at senior level, were struggling to get out of their own half at this stage and bar a shot in anger from Jack Watson that flew over had little to show for their efforts.
By contrast Dundalk had a number of good chances to add to their lead. A mistake by Jack Tuite on 16 minutes allowed Sean Hoare to pull the ball back for Dylan Connolly to shoot but he was denied by a superb block from Conor Kelly.
Folan then headed just over from a Duffy corner before the latter was denied himself on 25 minutes after his volley was superbly hooked off the line by Karl Byrne.
Having survived those few scares, Cabinteely equalised somewhat against the run of play in the 27th minute. Watson was adjudged to have been fouled by Folan and up stepped Early to curl the resulting free kick around the wall past the despairing dive of Gary Rogers.
Dundalk’s reply was instant as just a minute later debutant Folan made it 2-1 with a header from Duffy’s corner that Menton failed to keep out despite getting a hand to it.
Just when it looked like the home side were ready to step things up, Cabinteely were gifted a path back into the game on 35 minutes when a through ball from Early wasn’t dealt with by Brian Gartland and Rogers, who in the process took down Dean Casey after an awkward coming together. Referee Paul McLaughlin pointed to the spot as both Dundalk players lay in a heap on the ground. Both required attention but after a six minute delay it was decided that Rogers was unable to continue.
On came substitute goalkeeper Gabriel Sava but despite guessing the right way he was unable to prevent Early from equalising for a second time as the midfielder fired his spot kick to the bottom right hand corner.
Dundalk had a couple of chances to restore their lead before the break but Robbie Benson lashed a shot over after Connolly’s cross fell to him at the back post, while Folan was denied a second by the offside flag.
Lithuanian international Karolis Chvedukas was introduced for Dundalk at the start of the second half but it was Duffy who proved the biggest threat.
He was unlucky not to restore his side’s lead on a couple of occasions shortly after the restart with one chance being hooked off the line before a low left foot shot was clawed around the post by Menton.
There was to be no denying him on 56 minutes as the ex-Derry player struck a superb effort from the edge of the box to make it 3-2.
It was largely one way traffic after that with trialist Jeff McGowan unlucky not to get his name on the scoresheet on 69 minutes for the Town when he turned well in the box to get a shot away only to be denied by the legs of Menton.
The fourth goal did arrive three minutes later with Connolly using his pace to beat the advancing Menton to a Georgie Poynton pass wide on the right to finish sublimely to an empty net.
The game petered out from that point but it was overall a good workout for both sides, who will look to build on their performances and fitnesses in the days and weeks ahead.
Dundalk: Rogers (Sava 41); Hoare, Gartland, Folan, Gannon (Smith 87); Poynton, Benson (Chvedukas HT); Connolly, Murray, Duffy (O’Keeffe 87), McGowan. Subs not used: Finnegan, Flynn.
Cabinteely: Menton (Hyland 90); Byrne (Bugazzai 67), Kelly (Fitzpatrick 80), Tuite, Knight; Early (Broderick 71); Dalton (Fay 67), Watson (C Maher 71), Robinson (Morgan 67), Casey (Fox HT); Doyle (Perry 73). Subs not used: A Maher, Ball.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin (Monaghan).