Dundalk 3, Finn Harps 0
Champions Dundalk inflicted further misery on bottom of the table Finn Harps with Daniel Kelly scoring a super hat-trick at Oriel Park.
He broke the deadlock just before the break and added two more in the second half as Dundalk showed their class and moved up to third in the Airtricity League Premier Division.
In an incident filled game both sides lost players through injury in the first half with Dundalk captain Brian Gartland being replaced after 12 minutes while Harps goalkeeper Ciaran Gallagher had to go off on 24 minutes.
And it was in the third minute of nine minutes of stoppage time at the end of the first half that Dundalk went ahead as Kelly drove the hall home after a smart cut-back from Michael Duffy.
Earlier, Jamie McGrath, Dane Massey, and Sean Gannon all had chances for the Lilywhites.
But Harps went close on a number of occasions before the interval.
Firstly, Daniel O’Reilly forced Gary Rogers into making a decent save from a header and then Mikey Place shot narrowly wide from 25 yards, and also had an effort saved. Harps also hit the post after confusion in the home defence following a corner.
But Dundalk doubled their advantage two minutes into the second half when Harps failed to deal with a Dane Massey cross and when the ball fell for Kelly he crashed it into the net for his second of the game.
And on 50 minutes Duffy went close after a weaving run before shooting wide while at the other end Caolan McAleeer had a speculative effort stopped by Rodgers.
But Dundalk’s quality was evident as the game went on with Duffy, Patrick Hoban and Kelly all threatening.
Briefly, it looked as if Harps would buckle.
They survived until Kelly completed his hat-trick on 81 minutes as he latched onto a Sean Gannon cross before shooting past Burke.
And moments later he almost got a fourth as the Louth team peppered the visitors’ goal.
Next up for the Donegal side is a home clash with St. Patrick’s Athletic on Easter Monday.
Dundalk: Rogers; Gannon, Gartland, Hoare, Massey; D. Kelly, Shields, McEleney, Duffy; Hoban, McGrath. Subs: Cleary for Gartland (12 mins), McKee for McEleney (70 mins), Mountney for Duffy (79 mins).
Finn Harps: Gallagher; Kavanangh, Cowan, Todd, O’Reilly; McAleer, Coyle, McNamee, Cretaro; Place, Boyle. Subs: Burke for Gallagher (26 mins), Boyd for Cretaro (64 mins), Gallagher for Coyle (72 mins).
Referee: R. Harvey (Dublin).
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