A brilliant Mark Doyle double saw Drogheda Utd claim the bragging rights of Co Louth as they condemned their neighbours Dundalk to the relegation play-off spot with victory in Oriel Park.
The 22-year-old scored in either half to end his side's run of four league defeats and earn Tim Clancy’s side their first win since beating Finn Harps on 2 July.
This result was also a first victory for Drogheda at Oriel Park since June 2012, when they were also 2-1 winners.
After a disappointing run of six matches with a victory, this result has the Head in the Game Park side looking up the table again - just a point behind Bohemians and Derry City, albeit with more games played.
It’s a huge worry for Dundalk, however, who now sit second from bottom in the table following their third league defeat in-a-row and victories elsewhere tonight for Waterford FC and Finn Harps.
On the one-year anniversary of Vinny Perth's sacking last year, the recent impressive performances in Europe seem like a distant memory as the league’s heavy hitters for much of the past decade face the prospect of a relegation battle despite having the largest budget in the division.
Admittedly, the injury situation at Oriel Park hasn’t helped but it appears off the field issues are once more impacting results on the pitch. While many will argue this side is too good to go down, it’s now a very real concern with the prospect of European qualification via the league looking like an increasingly bleak prospect.
The Lilywhites had started well but never really posed an attacking threat in the game with the exception of Michael Duffy’s strike. Drogheda looked hungrier and were well deserving of the win.
It was the Boynesiders who fashioned the first chance of the game when Daniel O’Reilly fired a free kick straight at Alessio Abibi after just two minutes.
Dundalk bossed the proceedings after that with Greg Sloggett, Duffy and Will Patching all having efforts but Patrick Hoban’s was the only one on target on 17 minutes when he glanced on a Cameron Dummigan cross that was comfortably saved by David Odumosu.
Drogheda then almost took the lead on 27 minutes when Conor Kane broke up the left before crossing to Jordan Adeyemo. His scuffed effort looked like it would be easily saved by Abibi but the goalkeeper spilled it and was fortunate to see it creep behind for a corner kick.
Hoban would header over from a Duffy corner soon after before the visitors hit the front on 35 minutes.
Dundalk debutant Sami Ben Amar was at fault as he gifted possession to Darragh Markey, who in turn released Doyle to his right.
The 22-year-old then brilliantly cut in from the left by nutmegging Andy Boyle before drilling a right foot shot to the bottom right hand corner.
What a goal by Mark Doyle! ??— SSE Airtricity League (@SSEAirtricityLg) August 20, 2021
Great individual effort as he skips past a couple of Dundalk defenders before striking at goal to give his side the lead in the derby! ??
37' @DundalkFC 0-1 @DroghedaUnited
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Sonni Nattestad, who replaced the injured Daniel Cleary after just eight minutes, had a chance to equalise in the fourth minute of stoppage time but his header from Duffy’s corner was blocked in the six-yard box by Gary Deegan.
Things could have got worse for the home side within six minutes of the restart when Killian Phillips bustled his way in on goal but his shot was parried by Abibi with Doyle heading the follow up corner over from Markey’s delivery.
Dundalk were perhaps unlucky not to level two minutes later though when Duffy’s corner broke to Hoban, who swivelled to get a shot away that looked to be creeping in until Odumosu sprung to his left to keep it out.
Drogheda then doubled their advantage on 56 minutes. Doyle led the charge with a break from midfield before laying the ball off wide to Kane who delivered a superb cross from the left which Doyle ran on to to head past Abibi.
Dundalk’s response was almost instant, however, as they pulled a goal back just two minutes later. Cameron Dummigan did well on the left to cut back to Duffy who drilled past a helpless Odumosu to make it 2-1.
Disappointingly for the home side there were no real notable chances to level after that with Sean Murray heading perhaps their best effort well over a minute from time.
Dundalk: Alessio Abibi; Raivis Jurkovskis, Daniel Cleary (Sonni Nattestad 8), Andy Boyle, Cameron Dummigan; Sam Stanton, Greg Sloggett (Sean Murray HT); Sami Ben Amar (Han Jeong-woo 60), Will Patching, Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban. Subs not used: Cameron Yates, Wilfried Zahibo, Mayowa Animasahun, Val Adedokun, Daniel Kelly, Ryan O’Kane.
Drogheda Utd: David Odumosu; James Brown, Joe Redmond, Daniel O’Reilly, Conor Kane; Gary Deegan, Killian Phillips; Darragh Markey (Ronan Murray 89), Jake Hyland (Luke Heeney 60), Mark Doyle; Jordan Adeyemo (James Clarke 87). Subs not used: Colin McCabe, Kaleem Simon, Sam O’Brien, Mohammed Boudiaf, Charles Mutawe, Dane Massey.
Referee: Ben Connolly (Dublin)