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A Mixed Bag: Dundalk FC’s season openers over the last decade

Ahead of tonight's opening game of the SSE Airtricity League season against Derry City, we revisit Dundalk's season openers from years past.

Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny reacts to a missed chance against Drogheda United in 2014. Photo Credit: INPHO/Morgan Treacy.

/ 2019 – Dundalk 1 Sligo Rovers 1

Last year’s season opener was marred by the injury to Robbie Benson which ende dup putting paid to most of his final season with the Oriel Park club. The midfielder was injury in an early collision with Rovers’ goalkeeper Ed McGinty. After receiving lengthy treatment, he was replaced by debutant Sean Murray.

Jack Keaney’s free kick shortly before the break had given the visitors the lead before Murray drilled in an equaliser four minutes after the restart. The draw meant that for a second straight season, Dundalk had failed to win their season opener on home soil.


Robbie Benson
Dundalk’s Robbie Benson injured. Photo Credit: INPHO/Ciaran Culligan.

/ 2018 – Dundalk FC 0 Bray Wanderers 0

A forgettable encounter against a Bray team that would ultimately be relegated ended scoress. The match was notable for the debuts of Stephen Folan, Dean Jarvis, Kristjan Adorjan and the second coming, off the substitutes bench, of Patrick Hoban. It was less notable for the debut of Sam Byrne.

/ 2017 – Dundalk FC 2 Shamrock Rovers 1

All eyes were on Ronan Finn on the opening day of the SSE Airtricity League three years ago. The midfielder left Dundalk for Tallaght Stadium in the close season and he received quite the reception when he was introduced from the bench with half an hour to play.

Robbie Benson and Ciaran Kilduff had put Dundalk in control before Graham Burke’s ten cameo saw him reduce the deficit before being shown a straight red card by referee Neil Doyle for a lunge on Jamie McGrath.

Dundalk FC
Dundalk’s Robbie Benson celebrates scoring the first goal of the game with Michael Duffy and Stephen O’Donnell. Photo Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne.

/ 2016 – Bray Wanderers 1 Dundalk FC 3

The last time the Lilywhites opened their league campaign on the road was way back in 2016, pre-European run. Two goals inside the first 27 minutes from striker Ciaran Kilduff – selected ahead of Dave McMillan – put Stephen Kenny’s men in control.

Mark Salmon reduced the deficit before Ronan Finn’s late goal sealed the deal. The Bray team contained ex-Lilywhites Peter Cherrie and Conor Kenna. Both Robbie Benson and Patrick McEleney made their Dundalk debuts at the Carlisle Grounds.

/ 2015 – Dundalk 1 Longford 0

This game saw Dundalk win their first season opener for five years, a first victory since a win over Bray in 2010. It came courtesy of Daryl Horgan’s early goal.

/ 2014 – Drogheda United 4 Dundalk FC 1

This result remains one of the more memorable in recent years in the League of Ireland – especially considering what has happened both clubs since then. On the opening day of the 2014 campaign, Dundalk visited United Park for a Louth derby fresh off the back off a stunning 2013 season where they pushed St Pat’s close in the title race.

Would Dundalk kick on in 2014? Or were the previous 12 months a flash in the pan? You might have thought the latter after this hammering by the Boyne. Goals from Eric Foley, Gavin Brennan and two from Declan ‘Fabio’ O’Brien were enough for a big win for the Drogs in Robbie Horgan’s first game in charge.

Whatever happened to him? And whatever happened to the guy in the other dugout – Stephen Kenny? Patrick Hoban got Dundalk’s goal in the second half.

Drogs Dundalk
Drogheda’s Alan McNally and Daire Doyle with Pat Hoban of Dundalk. Photo Credit INPHO/Morgan Treacy.

/ 2013 – Dundalk FC 0 Shamrock Rovers 0

This was Stephen Kenny’s first game in charge of Dundalk. The Dundalk team on the day featured the likes of John O’Sullivan, John Dillon and Stephen McDonnell – as well as Dane Massey, Andy Boyle, John Mountney and Patrick Hoban. Seven years on, those four are still going strong.

The Rovers team featured future Dundalk players Ronan Finn and Ciaran Kilduff. Massey was sent off in injury time at Oriel Park.

/ 2012 – Dundalk 0 St Patrick’s Athletic 2

A strong Pats side, helmed by Liam Buckley, had goals from Stephen O’Flynn and John Russell to thank for the three points which they took back to Inchicore. Sean McCaffrey’s young team were no match for the visitors.

/ 2011 – Shamrock Rovers 3 Dundalk FC 1

The season kicked off in front of 5,263 at Tallaght Stadium on March 4 in 2011. Despite veteran Jason Byrne – and he was 33 at that stage – scoring a penalty on the stroke of halftime, Rovers produced an instant reply as Gary McCabe struck before the whistle.

Ian Foster could then do nothing as prolific striker Gary Twigg scored a brace in the second half to deny the Lilywhites. That Dundalk team included Peter Charrie, Simon Madden, Ross Gaynor, Greg Bolger, Daniel Kearns and Byrne, while Michael Hector was introduced as a substitute.

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