The Lilywhites finally conceded their SSE Airtricity League crown without even playing on Tuesday night after Cork City got the solitary point they needed to confirm their first League of Ireland title since 2005.
Coincidentally, it was a 2-1 home win against Bohemians this time last year which saw Dundalk secure their third championship in a row with two games to spare – a feat that City matched earlier in the week.
Dundalk kept the Leesiders’ champagne on ice last week when Michael Duffy scored late on to secure a 1-0 victory over Bray Wanderers at Oriel Park after Bohs held Cork to a 0-0 draw on the same night.
One player who missed that match in Dundalk and also happens to be a doubt for the visit of Bohs is Danish defender Niclas Vemmelund, who has enjoyed a remarkable first season at Oriel after signing from Derry City back in January – Dundalk have conceded just 13 goals in his 22 league appearances at the back.
“I wasn’t playing but it was nice to get the winner so late in the Bray game as we just have to win every game no matter what,” said Vemmelund who has been heavily linked with a move away from Dundalk.
“We have our last home game here at Oriel Park on Friday so hopefully there will be a good crowd and we can keep our winning streak going,” the former Denmark U19 international continued.
“It’s going to be another tough game (against Bohs). From what I’ve heard they played really well against Cork and maybe should have won the game. So, it’s going to be a really tough game. Bohemians are one of the good teams this year and just missed out on a European place.
“As I said they’ll be a hard opponent and we’ll have to be ready for the final league game. I think we’ll all be ready for it and do our best to give the crowd something to cheer about.”
The hosts are without captain Stephen O’Donnell for this fixture, who is serving a one-match suspension and Stephen Kenny could well ring the changes with one eye on the FAI Cup final against Cork City in two weeks. Vemmelund, Dane Massey, Patrick McEleney, Chris Shields, John Mountney, Dylan Connolly,
Thomas Stewart and Steven Kinsella are all carrying knocks heading into tonight’s penultimate league game of the season.
Keith Long has done a phenomenal job on a shoe-string budget at Bohs this year, with his side set to finish in the top half of the Premier Division despite many pundits and journalists alike before a ball was even kicked this season tipping the Gypsies to suffer what would have been a first relegation in the club’s history.
Bohs are, however, seriously depleted as they make the relatively short journey up to Oriel Park with Fuad Sule and Keith Ward both suspended while Georgie Poynton and Ciarán O’Connor – on loan from Dundalk – are unavailable to come up against their parent club.
Lorcan Fitzgerald and Warren O'Hora also miss out with knee and hamstring injuries respectively but Bohs have received a huge boost this week with the news that Eoin Wearen, who is missed the entire season up to now due to a ruptured cruciate, will return to the matchday squad for this fixture.
“This set-back has matured Eoin,” said Keith Long. “He's been top class. He's volunteered to do opposition scouting reports for us and his analysis has been excellent.
“Being out for that length of time isn't easy, but his attitude around the place has been superb. He's been training hard and he is in the best shape I've seen him. He will come back a better player.
“We're down to the bare bones but it's a great test for those who will play. You should want to play against the best in the league and Dundalk are the form team at present. They're unbeaten in 15 games so this will be a good challenge for our players to see what level we're at.
“Dundalk present a fresh challenge. They've been champions the previous three years for a reason. The players they brought in at the start of the season have settled in now and they've been putting teams to the sword lately – they have the best front four in the country. We have to be ready for them."
Referee: Derek Tomney
For two giants of League of Ireland football, this fixture represents the 323rd competitive meeting between Dundalk and Bohemians.
Dundalk have emerged victorious in 120 of those encounters while Bohs have won on 121 occasions since the first meeting of the clubs – a 1-1 draw at the old Athletic Grounds back in 1926/27.
Bohs skipper Derek Pender (2004) and Keith Ward (2011 & 2013-14) have both had spells with the Lilywhites while Dundalk captain Stephen O’Donnell was a double winner with Bohemians in 2008.
Dundalk 2/7; Draw 7/2; Bohemians 15/2
Dundalk 2-0 Bohemians
Doubtful: Dane Massey, Patrick McEleney, Niclas Vemmelund, Chris Shields, John Mountney, Dylan Connolly, Thomas Stewart, Steven Kinsella.
Suspended: Stephen O’Donnell, Conor Clifford.
Injured: Lorcan Fitzgerald (knee), Warren O'Hora (hamstring).
Unavailable: Georgie Poynton, Ciarán O’Connor.
Suspended: Keith Ward, Fuad Sule.