Football | Dundalk crush Linfield to win Champions Cup

Dundalk have hammered Linfield 5-0 at Oriel Park to win the inaugural Unite the Union Champions Cup.

Georgie Kelly (two), Brian Gartland, Jamie McGrath, Robbie Benson and Patrick Hoban scored the goals for the Lilywhites, sealing a comprehensive 6-1 aggregate victory following last week’s 1-1 draw at Windsor Park.

The victory – which was the biggest in Vinny Perth’s tenure – caps off a fantastic campaign for Dundalk, who have also won the Premier Division title, President’s Cup and EA Sports Cup this season.

Dundalk, who made seven changes from the team which drew in Belfast three days earlier, took the lead in the sixth minute at Oriel Park following a swift counter-attack.

Michael Duffy burst down the left wing before pulling a low cross across the box to Daniel Kelly at the back post.

The Dundalk midfielder’s scuffed shot fell to Georgie Kelly in the box, who converted from close range to give the hosts the advantage on aggregate.

Brian Gartland doubled Dundalk’s lead on the night 10 minutes later, powering a free header into the net from eight yards from Duffy’s corner.

Linfield’s marking at the set piece left a lot to be desired, in what was to become a familiar refrain as the night wore on.

David Healy’s visitors were without star player Shayne Lavery, who was missing due to international commitments with Northern Ireland.

Rohan Ferguson won’t want to see any replays of Dundalk’s third goal.

The Linfield goalkeeper scrambled from his goals in the 34th minute to prevent a back pass from going behind for a corner, but his botched clearance went straight to Duffy 25 yards from goal.

Duffy controlled the loose ball before teeing up McGrath on the edge of the box, with the Meath teenager finding the bottom corner with an excellent low strike from 20 yards.

The home side led 3-0 at the interval, but would plunder three more goals in the second half.

Benson, who has been heavily linked with a move away from the league champions, recorded goal number four for the Lilywhites in the 64th minute.

The midfielder burst forward from a deep position, driving into the box before lifting the ball over Ferguson beautifully to make it 4-0.

11 minutes later, Dundalk scored their fifth goal.

Georgie Kelly scored his second goal of the night after a flowing move from the Lilywhites down the left.

Duffy eventually shifted out to Dan Kelly on the left flank, and his measured cross was headed home by his namesake in the box.

Hoban got in on the act with five minutes left on the clock, with Linfield’s marking from a set piece letting them down once again.

The Lilywhites striker wriggled free in the box to head Duffy’s corner past Ferguson to round off an emphatic win for the SSE Airtricity League champions.

Dundalk’s win sees them claim the cup’s €50,000 prize.