Ciaran Kilduff produces another moment of magic to secure historic victory for Dundalk
The Premier Division champions were 1-0 winners over Maccabi Tel-Aviv, securing a first ever win for an Irish side in the group stages of a European game21:58 Thursday 29 September 2016, 21:58 29 Sep 2016
Ciaran Kilduff proved the hero once again as Dundalk recorded a historic 1-0 win over Maccabi Tel-Aviv at Tallaght Stadium this evening.
In front of a raucous crowd, Dundalk became the first Irish team to ever win a group game in Europe and it was Kilduff again who popped up with a moment of magic to secure all three points and send the Premier Division champions second in the group.
Daryl Horgan's wonderfully lofted ball was met by the on-rushing Kilduff who tapped home and send the Dundalk faithful into a euphoric state.
It was nothing more than Stephen Kenny's side deserved, after dominating for large periods and having taken the lead, they looked resolute in their defending, unshaken by the additional pressure.
Dundalk certainly began the better of the two sides and carved out some good early chances. With only a matter of minutes on the clock Dundalk had tested the Maccabi Tel-Aviv defence, cutting through it like a hot knife through melting butter.
A long ball up field, most characteristic it would prove of most of their first half play, was expertly nodded on by David McMillan and Patrick McEleney was on his way. His touch immaculate, he guided the ball away from Tal Ben Haim but his side foot effort was struck directly at the keeper.
Tel-Aviv answered, but certainly not in kind, Dor Peretz's high effort from the edge of the box unable to trouble Gary Rogers in the Dundalk goal.
The 'home side' as it were - allowing for the fact that Dundalk play away from their home of Oriel Park for Europa League group games - were happy to allow Tel Aviv have much of the possession.
Brian Gartland and Andy Boyle only applied the pressure as the opposition began to move into the final third, with the team as a whole compressing slightly and bursting out on the counter attack. Daryl Horgan was their chief target on the left wing offering speed down the channel.
McEleney went on to squander another good opportunity when his shot from distance was not sufficiently closed down but the effort dragged wide.
Shota Arveladze's side finally began to find some rhythm and there was a synchronized and sharp intake of breath from a noisy home crowd as they watched Tal Ben Haim's effort from the edge of the box saved smartly by Rogers.
The Dundalk faithful were in full voice for most of the game and while prematch protests outside the ground featured Palestine flags being flown on the walk into the ground, fans voiced their displeasure with John Delaney and the FAI.
As the game wore on, you felt the result was still there for the taking and Kenny executed an absolute masterstroke as he introduced birthday boy Kilduff to the fold in place of David McMillan.
His impact was instant and after he netted from close range, Dundalk did what is so uncharacteristic of Irish sides: they continued to play football. The temptation was there to sit back and absorb the pressure but Kenny's side pushed on and looked for a second.
They had their chances in to put the game to bed, but held on thanks to some last ditch defending in the dying moments of the game to secure the most famous result in Irish club football history.
In the run up to the game Kenny commented: "It would be foolish to suddenly think we’ve arrived. We can’t really think like that either."
They can now.
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