Two goals from Man of the Match Evan McMillan in the first half for Bohemians ensured a 2-1 victory over Dundalk despite a spirited fight back from the Lilywhites.
The central defender touched a goalward header from Heary into the net on 35 minutes and ten minutes later he rose to power a header past Peter Cherrie. However, despite looking out of the game at half time, Michael Rafter drilled a free kick into the bottom corner on 70 minutes to set up a nervy finish.
Bohemians set the tone of a game early on with chance after only a minute of play. A cross from the left was half cleared to the edge of the box and long-range specialist Ryan McEvoy set himself up but his volley was tame enough and Peter Cherrie caught it comfortably.
Bohemians pressed hard in the opening minutes at Dalymount Park in search of a goal. Karl Moore cut sharply inside from the right and hit a rasping left-footed effort towards goal in the fifth minute. Peter Cherrie in the Dundalk goal did well to parry it. However, the ball ricocheted off the foot of Owen Heary back across goal but it was just too high for Dwayne Wilson.
The Gypsies dominated the early exchanges and nearly took the lead through an unlikely source after 11 minutes. They displayed some talent in midfield, knocking the ball around with ease until McEvoy played a fantastic ball out wide to Heary who, in turn let fly with a fierce volley. The away goalkeeper did well to tip it over the bar for Bohemians’ third corner.
Dundalk grew into the game and had their first effort on goal after 15 minutes when Mark Griffin, who had earlier caused the home defence problem with a storming run, took a touch and let fly with a snap shot from distance. The effort, however, was well over the bar.
The home side continued to have the better chances of the first half. Karl Moore had another fine effort from 30 yards but it was deflected just around the Dundalk post.
On 26 minutes, Michael Barker flew into John Mountney with a thunderous tackle but the referee deemed it fair. Barker continued with the ball only for Dundalk captain Chris Shields to go in strongly and give away a free kick. Stephen McDonnell also picked up a yellow card during the moment of madness.
The Lilywhites injury crisis worsened as Mountney departed on a stretcher due to Barker's earlier challenge and was replaced by youngster Paul Walsh.
A goal always looked likely and Bohemians eventually took a deserved lead on the 35th minutes. The lively Peter McMahon picked up a loose ball after a corner and whipped in an attractive ball to the back post where Bohs captain Heary was lurking to nod the ball toward the far corner of the net. The home team celebrated with the Bohs veteran even though it looked as if Evan McMillan got the final touch as the ball bounced into the net.
Dundalk attempted to stem the flow of red and black attacks but couldn't muster any chances of note. Stephen McDonnell raced down the right flank in the 40th minute but his cross was safely gathered by Andy McNulty who had a very quiet 45 minutes in the home goal.
McMillan ensured his name would definitely be on the scoresheet on the stroke of half-time. The towering centre half leapt highest from a Bohs corner and powered his header in the top corner, speeding past the helpless Peter Cherrie. The central defender has been in good form in front of goal recently, adding to his winner against UCD last time out.
The away team began with a lot more purpose in the second half but their midfield was finding it difficult to string any passes together. Darius Kierans in the Dundalk dugout tried to reshuffle things, replacing Robert Waters with Peter Thomas. The substitute moved into the heart of defence while captain Shields stepped up into midfield.
Mark Griffin had a decent opportunity to finally test McNulty in the Bohemians’ goal with a free kick. In similar fashion to his effort in the first half, he blazed it far too high.
Ex-Dundalk player Keith Ward continued to control the midfield in the second half, spreading the ball to the wings and picking out his team mates with precision on multiple occasions. On 65 minutes the midfielder decided to try his luck from far out. His drilled shot on this occasion was not up to par, and it bounced harmlessly wide.
The away team still tried to fight their way back into the game. Gary Shanahan took advantage of some sloppy defending but drove his shot wide.
Moments later, Dundalk managed to pull a goal back with their first shot on target of the game on 70 minutes. Nathan Murphy strode forward from left back and won a free near the area. This time, Griffin chose to roll the ball to Michael Rafter who struck a low and powerful effort that beat McNulty at his near post.
Bohs broke forward shortly after. Ward found himself in space and curled one toward the far corner but Cherrie was more than equal to it. It was to be his last act as Dave Mulcahy made his return from injury.
The game quickly opened up as Dundalk pushed forward, putting pressure on Kevin Feely and McMillan in the Bohemian defence while the home side still looked dangerous in attack.
Rafter appeared to be finding his range and he nearly scored a spectacular goal in the 79th minute.
Picking up the ball from well outside the area, the striker's stinging shot only just drifted over the crossbar. A few minutes later Griffin also had a shot on goal but much like his other efforts, his half volley flew well over. McDonnell joined the club as he tried from distance to no avail.
Substitute Dave Mulcahy picked up a controversial yellow card in the 86th minutes. The referee deemed his sliding tackle to be a foul, much to the bemusement and anger of the home fans. The resulting free dribbled wide however.
Dundalk were given one final chance to equalise when they were awarded a very dubious corner in injury time. The corner flew across the box, cannoned in various direction but was eventually cleared and the final whistle went.
Bohemians: Andy McNulty; Owen Heary, Evan McMillan, Kevin Feely, Luke Byrne; Karl Moore (Keith Buckley 80), Ryan McEvoy, Michael Barker, Keith Ward (Dave Mulcahy 74), Peter McMahon (Andy Mulligan 61); Dwayne Wilson.
Subs Not Used: Chris Sexton (GK), Derek Pender, Roberto Lopes, Daniel Corcoran.
Booked: Mulcahy (85).
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; Robbie Gaul (William Woods 89), Derek Foran, Chris Shields, Nathan Murphy; Robert Waters (Peter Thomas 57), John Mountney (Paul Walsh, 31), Stephen McDonnell; Gary Shanahan, Michael Rafter, Mark Griffin.
Subs Not Used: Finian Farrelly (GK), Philip McCabe, Chris Reilly, Bob McKenna.
Booked: McDonnell (28).
Referee: Graham Kelly.
Extratime.ie Man Of The Match: Evan McMillan (Bohemians).