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Football | Dundalk claim Premier Division title in five-goal thriller

GOAL Dundalk DUN 1-0 SHA 28mins Sean Hoare heads home to give Dundalk the lead at Oriel Park.#RTEsoccer — RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) September 23, 2019 Dundalk scored a crucial second goal in first half stoppage time to put one hand on the league trophy. Benson started and finished the move, laying the ball off to Jamie McGrath before making a trademark run into the box from deep. McGrath spread the ball out wide to Massey on the left, who nudged it on to McEleney. McEleney looked up and found Benson with a delightful left-footed cross, which the Dundalk midfielder met with a superb glancing header into the far bottom corner from 10 yards. The Rovers marking was slack once again, but this was a goal of the highest quality from the champions.
GOAL Dundalk DUN 2-0 SHA 45+1min Robbie Benson doubles Dundalk's lead at Oriel Park.#RTEsoccer — RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) September 23, 2019 Dundalk entered the interval with a 2-0 lead, but Rovers hit back 10 minutes into the second half. The hosts almost killed the game off with two early chances in the second period, with Duffy flashing an acrobatic overhead kick wide, before O'Neill made a great recovery to deny Benson from McGrath's sumptuous through ball. In the 55th minute, Seán Kavanagh picked the ball up on the left flank and curled a wonderful through ball around the Dundalk defence, sending Greene through. Green showed good composure to lift the ball over the advancing Gary Rogers from just inside the 18-yard box, giving the Tallaght club a lifeline. Incredibly, this was the first league goal Dundalk had conceded at home since May.
GOAL Shamrock Rovers DUN 2-1 SHA 55mins Aaron Greene gets the Hoops back into this one with a well-taken goal.#RTEsoccer — RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) September 23, 2019 Rovers' tails were up, but it was Dundalk who registered the game's fourth goal four minutes after Greene's strike. Duffy produced a stunning goal of the season contender to fire the Lilywhites into a 3-1 lead. Rogers started the move with a lofted kick to Massey, who played the ball forward to McEleney. McEleney did well to hold off two Rovers players and turn sharply and tee up Duffy. The prolific winger took one touch to steady himself, before unleashing an unstoppable rocket from 25 yards past the helpless Alan Mannus.
GOAL Dundalk DUN 3-1 SHA 59mins Michael Duffy smashes the ball home from distance.#RTEsoccer — RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) September 23, 2019 Massey had the chance to make it four, but the left back's effort came back off the post. Rovers scored their second goal in the 64th minute to ensure a nervy ending for the majority of the 3,364-strong crowd at Oriel Park. Dundalk only had themselves to blame. Massey put Hoare under pressure with a sloppy pass following a short kick-out from Rogers, and Hoare's panicked clearance went straight to Burke. The former Preston man cut inside on his left foot and teed up McEneff on the edge of the box, who found the bottom corner through a crowd of bodies with a well-taken strike from 18 yards.
GOAL Shamrock Rovers DUN 3-2 SHA 65mins Aaron McEneff scores Rovers' second of the night following some sloppy Dundalk defending. #RTEsocce — RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) September 23, 2019 There was still time for plenty of late drama. Rovers saw a penalty appeal waved away when Hoare appeared to touch Byrne's cross with his hand eight minutes from time. Substitute Daniel Kelly then forced Mannus into a sharp save, before Rogers diverted McEneff's goal-bound strike over the bar in the dying seconds. Dundalk held out to win the title for the 14th time, sparking jubilant scenes in Oriel Park. The Lilywhites still have an FAI Cup semi-final against Sligo Rovers to look forward to, having already lifted the EA Sports Cup last month. Rovers will face fierce rivals Bohemian FC in the other semi-final.
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