Action from Friday night's game at Oriel Park as Dane Massey of Dundalk and Caolan McAleer of Finn Harps contest possession. Photo: Ciarán Culligan..
Finn Harps’ miserable run of results against Dundalk continued in front of the live TV cameras on Friday night when they were well beaten at Oriel Park.
Dundalk . . . 4
Finn Harps . . . 0
Harps had played well in the first half but fell to pieces after half time with Dundalk scoring three times in the space of 11 minutes to kill the game off by the hour.
Dundalk had beaten Harps in all three Premier Division meetings last season and Harps hadn’t managed a single goal in those games. Ollie Horgan’s side played very well in the first half and held the reigning champions scoreless until half time.
But in front of the eir Sport cameras, it all went horribly wrong for the Donegal men in the second half.
Dundalk went into this game having scored six goals in their last outing against neighbours Drogheda United.
But it was Harps who started brightly with Jonny Bonner and Paddy McCourt getting on plenty of the ball in midfield.
Ollie Horgan had made several changes to the side that lost against Shamrock Rovers with Caolan McAleer, Ethan Boyle, Damien McNulty and Danny Morrissey all back from suspension. Harps were well organised for much of the first half and looked solid across the back.
That said, Dundalk did enjoy a fair share of possession and Michael Duffy and Dave McMillan had half chances in the opening quarter.
Ciaran Gallagher then had to be quick off his line to save from McMillan on 25 and Patrick McEleney saw a shot well saved by the Harps keeper soon after.
Dundalk however, struggled to gain the upperhand and Harps, for whom Caolan McAleer looked bright on the right, had opportunities of their own.
Sean Houston went closest, running onto a wonderful pass down the left from Gareth Harkin and his shot across the face of goal was tipped round the post by keeper Rogers.
For all their good work in the first half, Harps could count themselves fortunate to go in level at the break. Right on the stroke of half time, McMillan’s effort clipped the base of the post after he got the better of Killian Cantwell in the box.
However, their resistance was eventually broken five minutes after the restart. McEleney’s back heel set up Dean Massey and while his shot was saved by Gallagher, the ball ricocheted into the net off the head of Robbie Benson.
Almost from the restart, Harps had real claims for a penalty turned down when Houston appeared to be clipped by Sean Gannon as the pair came together inside the box.
But Dundalk struck for a second on 55 when they took advantage of some very poor defensive play from the visitors, McMillan eventually finding the net after being set up by McEleney.
Former Derry man McEleney delivered the third with a wonderful chipped finish from the edge of the area after good approach play down the right from Duffy. That goal came on 61 and while Harps did tighten up a bit after that, Dundalk hit a fourth through substitute Jamie McGrath ten minutes from time.
Dundalk: Gary Rogers, Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Dane Massey, Niclas Vemmelund, Robbie Benson, Michael Duffy, Patrick McEleney (Ciaran Kilduff 73), Stephen O’Donnell (Chris Shields 70), Dave McMillan, Thomas Stewart (Jamie McGrath 61).
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher, Damien McNulty, Gareth Harkin, Ciaran Coll, Killian Cantwell, Jonny Bonner (Eddie Dsane 59), Caolan McAleer, Paddy McCourt (Barry Molloy 64), Danny Morrissey, Sean Houston (Pascal Millien 72), Ethan Boyle.
Referee: Ben Connolly.