Bohemians made it five wins in as many games with a 3-1 win over Dundalk on a blustery Monday evening in Dalymount.
A relatively poor first half gave way to an entertaining second, with a spectacular Ger O'Brien strike following a Killian Brennan opener for Bohs on 54 minutes. Johnny Breen pulled one back for Dundalk after a sublime run by Mark Griffin on 62 minutes. Christy Fagan capped a confident Gypsies performance with a late goal.
The first half was one in which Bohs dominated, with Dundalk squandering possession on several occasions. The Lilywhites were without several key players and will now also be without Dean Bennett who was booked and must serve a four-game suspension.
The home side were quick to break through the Lilywhites defence- with Aidan Downes and Anto Flood having chances to score in quick succession after four minutes. After a Killian Brennan free-kick came off the wall, Downes cut in from the wing and struck his shot powerfully against the upright. With Dundalk 'keeper Peter Cherrie mired on the other side of goal, Anto Flood must have thought he had scored when he headed the rebound at goal. But Carl McHugh somehow got across to head the ball up, over the bar and out for a corner.
McHugh almost turned from hero to villain after 29 minutes, gifting Flood the ball inside the Dundalk box. But Peter Cherrie took up the mantle of heroism- pushing the ball wide with a superb save from Flood's well-placed shot. Stephen Hurley had another chance just before half-time, stooping low to head a Ger O'Brien cross wide of the goal.
For the most part, Dundalk were poor in the first half. Ian Foster employed Greg Bolger and Dean Bennett as holding midfielders in an attempt to keep the ball, but Bohs were easily able to pressure them into giving it away before Dundalk could get the ball to their more creative players. What was probably their best chance of the half went begging after 25 minutes. Jason Byrne started a nice move with a chipped pass down the wing and almost finished it too- just missing a connection with Mark Quigley's cross.
The home side finally made good on their domination of the game just five minutes after half time and this time, instead of saving a goal, Peter Cherrie was at fault. Cherrie looked like he was coming to claim a through ball, but instead backed off- leaving Killian Brennan to slot the ball between Cherrie's legs.
The first Bohs goal may have been at least partly a result of human error, but the second came through sheer brilliance on the part on Ger O'Brien. After being fed the ball by Stephen Hurley, O'Brien ran from the halfway line before scoring from 30 yards with a thunderous drive.
That Bohs double salvo was the wake-up call Dundalk needed. The Lilywhites instantly went on the search for a way back into the match, and found it after 62 minutes. Mark Griffin's mazy run from midfield showed his skill, but the Bohs defenders seemed to back off him at times. Griffin made his way to the edge of the Bohs box, where he passed neatly for Johnny Breen. Craig Sexton saved Breen's first shot with an outstretched foot, but the unmarked Breen made no mistake in scoring on the rebound.
But Bohs were the better side on the night and deserved their win, with Christy Fagan making sure of the three points a minute into added time. The substitute tapped in close to goal from an Anto Flood cross after Flood was allowed to run unmarked down the left side of the Dundalk box. The two sides will renew acquaintances with each other in the FAI Cup in just five days time, but for now it's advantage to Pat Fenlon's men.
Bohemians: Craig Sexton; Owen Heary (c), Mark Rossiter, Glenn Cronin, Liam Burns; Stephen Hurley (Ryan McEvoy '86), Keith Buckley (Robert Bayly '77), Ger O'Brien, Killian Brennan; Anto Flood, Aidan Downes (Christy Fagan '64).
Subs Not Used: Barry Murphy, Roberto Lopes, Kevin Feely, Lee Dixon.
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; Simon Madden (c), Nathan Murphy, Carl McHugh, Cian Byrne; Greg Bolger, Dean Bennett, Mark Quigley; Johnny Breen, Jason Byrne, Mark Griffin.
Subs Not Used: David Murphy, Phillip Murphy, Chris Reilly, Glen Trainor.
Bookings: P Cherrie (3), D Bennett (24), S Madden (65).
Referee: Dave McKeon.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Ger O'Brien.