Ciaron Harkin scored one of Derry City's goals in their victory at Oriel Park.
Derry City 2
Derry City have put themselves in contention for European football next season by beating Dundalk on the final day of the season.
City’s win, coupled with Bohemians’ draw at Sligo, sees Ruaidhri Higgins’ team finish in fourth to complete a remarkable turnaround at the Brandywell this season.
Dundalk had a great chance to open the scoring after just 12 minutes when Sean Murray sent Patrick Hoban through a huge gap in the idle of the Derry defence. The striker ran clear on goal but just when it looked as if he would strike his 21st goal of the season, Darren Cole got back with a brilliant tackle to take the ball from the striker’s foot.
It was mostly Dundalk in the opening stages and Gartside was called upon to make a wonderful save to keep his team level on the half hour. Sean Murray lined up a free kick 25 yards from goal and his effort was curling for the top corner until the City goalkeeper got across to push the ball around the upright for a corner.
The goal that Dundalk has been threatening arrived on 33 minutes and it was a moment for Gartside to forget. Sean Murray, lively in the opening stages, picked up the ball in midfield and shrugged off Darren Cole before drilling an effort straight at goal, with the ball somehow eluding the City goalkeeper on its way into the net.
Derry stunned Dundalk by equalising on the stroke of half time, and it was a rare goal from Ciaron Harkin. The midfielder lined up an effort from 30 yards and the shot went all the way through, deflecting off the head of Andy Boyle, which took it past the dive of Peter Cherrie and into the net for 1-1.
Despite being on top for the most part, Dundalk could have went into the break a goal down, as City won possession and attacked just seconds after the equaliser, with Cherrie having to stop McGonigle after he skillfully went past Sami Ben Amar.
The momentum was undoubtedly with Derry City after that and they took the lead on 52 minutes. Will Fitzgerald was involved as his left-footed shot was charged down, but he had the presence of mind to snap up the rebound and play in McGonigle, who simply slotted it beyond Cherrie to make it 2-1.
Dundalk were shaken by that, but they almost equalised out of nothing when the ball broke to Murray in the area, and his shot beat Gartside only to be brilliantly blocked on the line by Ciaron Harkin.
That was as close as Dundalk got as Derry City head out rather comfortable to pick up a deserved narrow victory.
Victory for St. Patrick’s Athletic in this season’s FAI Cup final will see the Candystripes qualify for Europe.
DUNDALK: Cherrie, Boyle, Ben Amar (Kelly 3’), Stanton, Hoban, Jurkovskis, Leahy, Murray, Cleary, Dummigan, McMillan (O’Kane 68’).
DERRY CITY: Gartside, Coll, McJannett, Cole, Lafferty, Boyce, Harkin, Thomson, Fitzgerald (Malone 81’), Akintunde, McGonigle.
REFEREE: Neil Doyle.
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