Andrew Dempsey reports from Dalymount Park
It was a night of frustration for Bohemians as they were unable to see their dominance pay with three points against a below-par Dundalk side at Dalymount Park.
Dinny Corcoran fired Keith Long's charges into a deserved lead but they were made to pay for their errors up top as Daniel Cleary popped up with a 78th minute equaliser.
Much of the talk heading into Bohs' final home clash of the year was about their new away strip, which has gained international recognition, and Keith Long committing his future to the Gypsies until at least 2021.
On the other hand, Dundalk came into the game with one eye firmly set on the upcoming Aviva Stadium clash next week as the Lilywhites look to secure the much sought-after league and FAI Cup double on November 4th.
Both sides made changes coming into the Friday night showdown by the seas as Bohs made just the six changes from their last outing against Sligo Rovers on Monday evening.
Dundalk made two, with the return of captain Stephen O’Donnell proving the real talking point.
However, it was Bohs who started the game better with Keith Ward at the heart of all things good about the Gypsies play. So much so that he created the first real opening of the game.
Having linked up with the mercurial Corcoran, Ward played the ball back into the feet of the in-form striker who in turn found a free Daniel Kelly.
Kelly, with the goal at his mercy just about saw his volley bounce wide of the goal as Gary Rogers and co breathed a major sigh of relief in front of a vociferous home support.
However, just minutes later, Bohemians took a deserved lead.
Keith Buckley burst down the right flank to send a superb ball into the path of Corcoran, who fired past Rogers to grab his fifth goal in just under 135 minutes for the Gypsies.
Bohs could have grabbed a second but Ward, with the goal at his mercy, saw his low volley saved by a stretched Rogers in the Dundalk goal after he was fed in by the talismanic Corcoran.
Ward and Devaney then both went close in quick succession as Rogers was equal to their low efforts as Ian Morris created the opening with a superbly skilful move in the middle of the park.
Sensing that they were losing control of the game, Dundalk responded as they so often do. Dylan Connolly swapped wings with Michael Duffy as the Lilywhites created their first real opening of the game.
McEleney found Duffy, who somehow saw his shot blocked by Daniel Casey at point blank range as Dundalk tried to assert their dominance on a fiercely competitive Bohs.
Continuing on from their showing in the opening period, the Gypsies engineered the first real opening of the half through Daniel Kelly.
Kelly, reportedly interesting the likes of Bolton Wanderers, cut inside but his low effort was too weak to trouble Rogers in the Dundalk goal.
If Bohemians were close to extending the lead in the opening period, they were to go even closer in the 53rd minute.
After linking up well with Corcoran, Ward, set his target man free but the 29-year-old saw his effort crash off the post.
In one of their few real openings of the game, Dundalk could have easily drawn level. Hoban picked the ball off a lacking in concentration Ian Morris, but Casey soon caught up with the in-demand striker.
The chance was not gone however, but Duffy, who picked up on Hoban’s lay off, smashed over Shane Supple’s goal.
It was almost inevitable that the Lilywhites were going to have one chance to make Bohs pay for their prolificacy’s up top and do that they did. After a sustained spell of pressure from a flurry of corner kicks, Michael Duffy found the head of Daniel Cleary who smashed his header home past the despising touch of Supple in the Bohemians goal.
However, the goal came at a cost.
Patrick Hoban was forcibly withdrawn from the action with what looked to be a hamstring strain which will worry Stephen Kenny with a cup final coming up on Sunday week.
Dundalk did then have a chance to win it late on, but Patrick McEleney saw a golden opportunity escape his grasp as the former Derry City man blazed over from close range.
In truth, it was a case of two points dropped from Keith Long’s side who were the better side throughout, as Dundalk showed their mettle on a challenging night.
Bohemians: Shane Supple; Derek Pender (Rob Cornwall, 75), Dan Casey, Ian Morris, Patrick Kirk; JJ Lunney, Keith Buckley, Kevin Devaney, Keith Ward (Eoghan Stokes, 84), Daniel Kelly (Daniel Byrne, 90); Dinny Corcoran.
Subs not used: Colin McCabe, Robbie McCourt, Oscar Brennan, Cristian Magerusan.
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Hoare, Daniel Cleary, Brian Gartland, Dane Massey; John Mountney (Ronan Murray, 72), Stephen O’Donnell (George Poynton, 58), Dylan Connolly, Patrick McEleney, Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban (Georgie Kelly, 80).
Subs not used: Gabriel Sava, Stephen Folan, Jamie McGrath, Jake O’Connor.
Booked: George Poynton (63).
Referee: Robert Hennessy.
Attendance: 2,500 (Estimate).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Keith Ward (Bohemians).