DUNDALK 1 (Mountney 11′)
Report courtesy of sseairtricityleague.ie
Dundalk got their defence of the EA Sports Cup off to a winning start with John Mountney’s cracker enough to see off Shelbourne at Oriel Park.
The cup holders, who welcomed captain Stephen O’Donnell back from injury, dominated the first half but went in at the break with just a single goal to show for their dominance.
It came in the 13th minute when Mountney, who saw a shot fly wide six minutes earlier, took Kurtis Byrne’s crossfield pass down with his right foot before driving a sweetly struck left footed missile past Shels goalkeeper, Jack Brady from 20-yards.
Stephen Kenny named five teenagers in his starting XI and their enthusiasm was a joy to watch. Of those five, Ciaran O’Connor, his younger brother, Michael and Georgie Poynton were all heavily involved in Dundalk’s attacking play.
Shels boss Kevin Doherty, who started with four debutantes in his team, watched his side get pinned back for much of the game and Shane Grimes saw a left footed shot beaten away by Brady in the 21st minute before Byrne and Mountney both went close from distance.
Poynton was then denied by another good Brady stop with Byrne’s follow up deflected wide. Michael O’Connor and centre-back Paddy Barrett also tried their luck before the break but Brady was able to wave both efforts away.
The second half continued in the same vein with Byrne denied by the young Shels goalkeeper after some neat build up play by Michael O’Connor. The 17-year-old was busy again in the 57th minute, sliding Grimes in on the left. He picked out Ciaran O’Connor but his goalbound shot was charged down by Ryan Robinson.
Dundalk’s failure to add a second almost came back to bite them just past the hour mark when former Lilywhite Jordan Keegan found himself with the full goal to aim at from 18-yards but his right footed effort posed no danger to Gabriel Sava.
Kenny introduced first team regular Darren Meenan in the 71st minute and he was quickly into action, setting up another teen – Anton Reilly – but he blazed over with better options in the middle.
The elusive second goal should have arrived with five minutes to go. Ciaran O’Connor picked the pocket of Darragh Gannon on the left before driving into the box and teeing up Grimes but his strike was deflected wide.
O’Connor’s header, from Meenan’s corner, was then hacked off the line but it mattered little as Dundalk saw the game out comfortably to progress to the quarter finals.
Dundalk: Gabriel Sava, Stephen O’Donnell, John Mountney, Kurtis Byrne, Shane Grimes, Paddy Barrett, Anton Reilly, Ciaran O’Connor, Georgie Poynton, Paul Finnegan, Michael O’Connor (Darragh Meenan 70′).
Subs not used: Carlton Ubaezuono, Alex Barry, Garreth Craven, Calvin Murphy, Ben Kelly.
Shelbourne: Jack Brady, Darragh Gannon, Alan Kehoe (Evan Osam 54′), Ryan Robinson, Adam O’Connor, Jake Donnelly, Aaron Robinson (Mark Sandford 70′), Manuel Rodriguez, Alan O’Sullivan, Jordan Keegan, Conor Earley.
Subs not used: Colm Crowe, Gareth Coughlan, Conor Keeley, Philip Hughes, Greg Murray.