Bray Wanderers 1-3 Dundalk
SSE Airtricity League Champions Dundalk got right back into the groove as a double from Ciaran Kilduff and a third from Ronan Finn saw them see off Bray Wanderers 3-1 at the Carlisle Grounds.
Bray were outplayed from the off and Mick Cooke’s rebuilt side finished with ten men as defender Curtis Murphy was sent off 10 minutes from time.
Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny, in his 100th league match in charge, made two changes from last week's defeat to Cork City in the President’s Cup, with Paddy Barrett starting at right-back for Sean Gannon while John Mountney came into midfield in place of Chris Shields.
That mattered not as Dundalk raced into a fourth minute lead to get last week’s poor display at Turner’s Cross out of their system.
Midfielder Finn swept a ball wide right to Mountney, whose deep cross was superbly-controlled first time by Kilduff before the big striker nonchalantly clipped the ball past Peter Cherrie at the near post.
Kenny had described his side’s performance last week as a wake-up call and they remained bright and inventive from the off as Bray struggled to get a foothold in the game.
Home keeper Cherrie was worked on 24 minutes when Daryl Horgan cut across the face of goal to unleash a low drive.
Such was Dundalk’s dominance, it was little surprise to see them double their lead on 27 minutes.
A sublime through ball from left-back Dane Massey sent Kilduff away and he outpaced the defence to shoot past Cherrie.
Very much against the run of play, Bray hit back within two minutes, as Dean Kelly’s free-kick arced over the heads of those in the Dundalk penalty area and past Gary Rogers in the visitors' goal.
But Dundalk very much remained the dominant side into the second half, with Kilduff having a goal ruled out for offside on 53 minutes.
Horgan then found space on the left to drill a shot across the face of the Bray goal and wide of the far post.
The hard-working Kilduff slalomed through on 61 minutes with Cherrie off his line smartly to make a smother save at the striker’s feet.
Cherrie was busy again three minutes later when tipping over Massey’s deflected cross as Dundalk probed purposefully to seal the result.
Bray lost left-back Murphy to a second yellow card following a foul on Barrett on 80 minutes.
A minute later, Dundalk got that clinching third goal. Finn cut in from the left to outwit Cherrie with a low drive to the bottom right-hand corner of the keeper’s net.
Bray Wanderers: Peter Cherrie; Sean Harding, Conor Kenna, Alan McNally, Curtis Murphy; Alan Byrne; Gareth McDonagh, (Dylan Connolly 63) Mark Salmon, Ryan Brennan, Karl Moore; Dean Kelly (Andrew Lewis 79).
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Paddy Barrett, Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle, Dane Massey; John Mountney (Darren Meenan 37), Ronan Finn, Stephen O’Donnell (Robbie Benson 86), Daryl Horgan; Patrick McEleney (Chris Shields 74); Ciaran Kilduff.
Referee: Padraig Sutton (Clare).