Early goals from Andy Boyle and Brian Gartland kept Dundalk’s Airtricity League Premier Division title ambitions well and truly on the boil with a ninth away win of the season after a 2-1 victory at Tolka Park.
A fifth win from six games for Stephen Kenny's side keeps them a point behind leaders St. Patrick's Athletic as they brought an end to Shelbourne’s five-match unbeaten run at Tolka Park.
The Dublin side rallied well in the second half and got a goal back through Graham Gartland. But their chief consolation on the night came from the knowledge that relegation rivals UCD and Bohemians both lost.
As they did to Shamrock Rovers last week, Dundalk, lacking no little confidence, blitzed Shelbourne early on to run up a 2-0 lead inside 13 minutes.
There were a mere 72 seconds on the referee Padraigh Sutton’s watch when Darren Meenan’s corner was headed powerfully to the net by central defender Boyle for his first goal for the club.
It should have been 2-0 five minutes later but for a fine penalty save by Shelbourne ‘Keeper Lee Murphy from John Dillon after Gartland was booked for pulling down Dundalk captain Stephen O’Donnell.
Further negligent defending, however, meant that Dundalk didn’t have long to wait to score again. Another Meenan corner was once again not dealt with by Shelbourne as Boyle’s central defensive partner Gartland was left unmarked to power a header to the net.
Shelbourne battled back into the game in the second half and had a good shout for a penalty ignored on 57 minutes when Gartland looked to have handled a shot from Sean Brennan inside the area.
Brennan then came close twice in quick succession, the first when his fierce shot was bravely headed over the top by Boyle.
Dean Kelly then flicked on a long throw for Brennan to unleash a stinging volley from the edge of the area to bring the save of the night from Peter Cherrie who somehow tipped it over the bar.
The pressure told on 73 minutes, though, as Shebourne got a goal back. Dundalk failed to clear a Brennan corner and Gartland swept the ball home from 16 yards.
Shelbourne: Lee Murphy; Pat Flynn (Darren Tinnelly, 83), Ian Ryan, Graham Gartland, Derek Doyle; Sean Brennan, Glenn Cronin, Stephen Hurley (Brian Gannon, 70), Adam Hanlon; Lee Murtagh (Robert Cornwall, h/t), Dean Kelly.
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; Mark Rossiter, Andy Boyle, Brian Gartland, Chris Shields: John Dillon (Jordan Keegan, 74), Richie Towell, Stephen O’Donnell, Meenan (Dane Massey, 85); PatrickHoban, Kurtis Byrne (Francis McCaffrey,68).
Referee: Padraigh Sutton (Clare).