A scoreless draw meant both sides went home from Oriel Park with a share of the spoils, but Dundalk may feel they could have won the match. Both sides were unable to break the deadlock over the 90 minutes.
There was controversy late on as the stadium erupted in the 85 minute when Dundalk felt they should have had a penalty. Daniel Kearns made a driving run into the box, twisting and turning the Bohemians defence before Aidan Price made a tackle which appeared not to connect with the ball. But, the referee didn’t consider it a foul and waved play on, to the bemusement of most of the 2200-strong crowd.
Bohemians had the better start with some early pressure on the home goal. The first effort of the game came from a very ambitious drive from distance by Killian Brennan which set a tone for long distance efforts by both sides throughout. Dundalk had the best chance on ten minutes when Mark Quigley used his nimble feet to work space in the away box but he smashed the ball into the side netting. Soon after, from a Dundalk free-kick Quigley took everyone by surprise by electing not to shoot, instead deftly chipping the ball in but everyone appeared to be expecting a strike on goal and the ball floated wide.
Owen Heary was working well on the right. He galloped down the right wing and whipped in a fierce cross to Fagan who rose between the two Dundalk centre backs but headed well over. Hawkins and Shane Guthrie worked well to easily halt most of the away attacks.
A few players needlessly picked up yellow cards in the final ten minutes of the half. McDonnell picked up a yellow for a trip on Heary and Fagan got himself into the book on 28 minutes with a classic striker’s tackle, late and unnecessary. Byrne followed them with a foul out of frustration. A cross from the left was brilliantly taken down by Fagan despite the Dundalk pressure in the final few minutes. He twisted and sold a dummy but his eventual shot was blocked by a diving Hawkins
The best save of the half went to the home 'keeper just before half time. A dipping shot out of nowhere from Mark Rossiter almost fell under the crossbar but Cherrie did well to tip it over for a corner. After the break Daniel Kearns sent a great delivery into the box and Quigley leaped to nod the ball wide.
Another glorious opportunity presented itself at the other end for the young Stephen Traynor on 51 minutes. A smart touch put him through one-on-one but his placed shot was saved by Cherrie who got down well to get a strong hand to it.
Bohemians seemed to have rehearsed their corners with the same two moves catching Dundalk out on a number of occasions. Short passes to Rossiter allowed him to drill the ball into the box- which Dundalk never dealt with. The ball direct into the back post also caused trouble with Heary knocking it back for Fagan to meet but McDonnell was on the line to guide it out for another corner. The home side appeared tired but Bohemians couldn’t break the deadlock.
The momentum began to swing in Dundalk’s favour. Kearns was looking a potent threat on the right and his darting run and shot forced Murphy into an impressive save. His contribution was certainly noticed by Pat Fenlon who replaced Dixon with Daniel Joyce in an attempt to halt his influence.
A corner late on put the Bohemians defence under immense pressure. The ball flew around like a pinball until Heary stopped it on his own line and hoofed it clear. A bit of afters between Flood and Hawkins in injury time earned the two men yellow cards. The final whistle went after a wasted ball by Dundalk, summarising their play on a cold night in Oriel Park.
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; Simon Madden, Colin Hawkins, Nathan Murphy, Shane Guthrie; Stephen McDonnell (Johnny Breen, 70), Stephen Maher, Daniel Kearns, Keith Ward; Jason Byrne, Mark Quigley.
Subs Not Used: Paul Murphy (GK), Mark Griffin, Philip Duffy, Gerard McSorley, Glen Trainor, Stephen Hutchinson.
Bookings: S McDonnell (37), J Byrne (40), K Ward (75), C Hawkins (93).
Bohemians: Barry Murphy; Owen Heary, Liam Burns, Aidan Price, Mark Rossiter; Lee Dixon (Daniel Joyce, 75), Ollie Cahill, Stephen Traynor (Karl Somers, 90), Killian Brennan; Anto Flood, Christy Fagan (Keith Buckley, 85)
Subs Not Used: Craig Sexton (GK), Gary Burke, Kevin Feely, Chris Forrester.
Bookings: C Fagan (29), L Dixon (48), K Brennan (53), A Flood (93).
Referee: Damien Hancock
Extratime.ie Man Of The Match: Daniel Kearns, Dundalk. The winger was a constant threat throughout the game.