A clinical second half hat-trick from Richie Towell helped Dundalk FC to maintain their position at the top of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.
United battled hard in the first half and they pressed Dundalk high up the pitch but their cause was not helped by an extremely harsh penalty decision early in the second half. Kevin Garcia was adjudged to have fouled David McMillan by referee Paul McLaughlin and Richie Towell made no mistake from 12 yards.
The penalty settled Dundalk and Towell grabbed a second of the evening when Darren Meenan squared to ball to Towell just inside the United box and his goalbound shot took a deflection on the way to goal, beating Ger Hanley.
Towell bagged his hat-trick on the hour mark when he curled the ball around Ger Hanley from the edge of the box to make sure of the points.
The hosts had the first chance of a low-key first half. Marksman David McMillan couldn’t direct his header goalward however.
Jake Keegan set up Padraic Cunningham with a clever knock down but he volleyed wide from long range.
Five minute before half time, Dundalk captain Andy Boyle nodded a Dane Massey free kick wide of Hanley’s post.
The biggest chance of the first half fell to Dundalk winger Darren Meenan. Sean Gannon hung a deep cross to the back post where Meenan met the ball with a powerful header but it was straight at Ger Hanley.
The second half was just two minutes old when Dundalk hit the front. Dundalk striker David McMillan ran across United defender Kevin Garcia before taking a tumble, referee Paul McLaughlin awarded the home side a penalty. Ger Hanley guessed right but Towell’s powerful penalty nestled in the bottom corner.
It wasn’t long before the Lilywhites doubled their lead. Darren Meenan raided down the right flank before getting his head up and spotting Towell unmarked just inside the box, he pulled the ball back to the former Celtic midfielder and his goalbound effort took a deflection and the ball creeped past Ger Hanley in goal.
Enda Curran was thwarted in his attempts to pull a goal back for United by Dundalk keeper’ Gabriel Sava. His 25 yard free kick zipped along the surface but Sava got behind the ball and gathered.
Richie Towell bagged his hat-trick on the hour mark when he curled the ball around Ger Hanley from the edge of the box with a precise finish.
Ten minutes from time, substitute Alex Byrne set up Jake Keegan, the American bore down on goal but his left footed effort was high and wide.
Dundalk winger Daryl Horgan flicked the ball over his brother Colm before volleying at goal but Hanley got down well to save and it finished 3-0 to the hosts at Oriel Park.
NEXT UP: Galway United travel to the Carlisle Grounds on Saturday to take on Bray Wanderers. GUST are running a supporters bus to the game. Details HERE.
REFEREE: Paul McLaughlin.
DUNDALK (4-3-3): Sava; Gannon, Gartland (Barrett 63), Boyle, Massey; Shields, Towell, Finn (O’Donnell 78); Meenan, McMillan (Mountney 76), Horgan.
UNUSED SUBSTITUTES: B. Kelly (GK), Byrne, J. Kelly, Grimes.
SCORERS: Towell 47, 50, 60.
BOOKED: Gannon 57.
GALWAY UNITED (4-4-2): Hanley; Horgan, Garcia, Walsh, Ludden (Oji 56); Shanahan, O’Leary (Byrne 67), Connolly, Keegan; Curran (O’Laoi 72), Cunningham.
UNUSED SUBSTITUTES: Gleeson (GK), Raftery, Barry, Sinnott.
BOOKED: Ludden 28.
OFFICIAL ATTENDANCE: 2,683.