Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny has paid tribute to “magician” Daryl Horgan after the winger conjured up two goals which helped the defending champions to a 2-1 win over nearest rivals Cork City in the race for the SSE Airtricity League title on Tuesday night.

With Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill amongst the crowd at a packed Oriel Park, Horgan opened the scoring with a 25-yard free-kick which went in off the back of Cork goalkeeper Mark McNulty.

While his opener had more than a hint of good fortune about it, there was no mistaking the quality of the Galway man’s second goal on the night.

Horgan picked up the ball at the edge of his own area and darted forward before unleashing an unstoppable shot from 20 yards out.

“Daryl was the difference,” Kenny told RTÉ viewers afterwards as he reflected on the victory.

“He’s a little magician and two great goals from him.”

The 24-year-old, who plied his trade with the Leesiders before his move to Dundalk, was delighted by the way his side had responded to the surprise 3-0 defeat to Sligo on Saturday.

That loss was compounded by Cork’s 5-0 drubbing of Galway United on the same night, and the defending champions had just a one-point lead at the top of the table heading into last night’s encounter.

“Saturday was a big momentum shift,” Horgan conceded.

“Obviously Cork had a brilliant result down in Galway and we had a bit of an off-night.

“On another day we could have had a few but that is just the way it goes.

“But it was brilliant from us to bounce back - an unbelievable performance.

“Probably not the most beautiful game of football you’ll ever see, but from both sides there was a lot of determination and quality, and a couple of goals.

Horgan also paid tribute to the role played by the Oriel Park faithful.

“It was tremendous, it really was,” he said.  

“I suppose with the amount of games it’s hard to get the place full the whole time, but it was rocking tonight.”