Niall Newberry reports from Oriel Park
Dundalk capped off their pre-season programme on Tuesday night with a 2-2 draw against a spirited Longford Town side in front of what was a small turnout at Oriel Park.
Longford impressively came from behind to snatch a draw with last year’s double winners with goals from Adam Evans and Michael McDonnell cancelling out strikes from Daniel Kelly and Patrick Hoban.
It concludes Vinny Perth’s first pre-season as Dundalk boss, which incorporated matches against Austrian and Swedish opposition in the form of LASK Linz and IF Brommapojkarna in Spain last week.
The big news before this match was the confirmation of former Watford and Colchester United midfielder Sean Murray’s transfer to Dundalk following completion of his medical earlier in the day.
Officially unveiled to the Oriel Park faithful right before kick-off, Murray is believed to have signed a two-year contract with the club following his release from Danish Superliga outfit Vejle Boldklub.
Longford included in their starting XI the vastly experienced Conor Kenna, who had just hours earlier completed a move to the First Division side having spent the past three seasons at Bray Wanderers.
Daniel Kelly – another winter signing for Dundalk – had the game’s first chance of note after he had the beating of Longford left-back Anto Breslin before his close-range shot was saved by Lee Steacy.
In a match that, perhaps rightfully, won’t live long in the memory, clear-cut chances were not at a premium in the first half as Patrick McEleney and Daniel Kelly both saw efforts fly well over the bar.
The Lilywhites were beginning to turn the screw towards the end of the opening period though, with McEleney’s diagonal ball just evading the inrushing Michael Duffy after Sean Hoare had miscued his attempt.
Predictably dominant in possession, the home side then took the lead in first half stoppage-time when former Bohemians winger Daniel Kelly volleyed home after a cross from Robbie Benson.
Dundalk doubled their lead ten minutes into the second period when McEleney played Hoban through on goal before last year’s SSE Airtricity League leading scorer dinked the ball over Steacy.
To their credit, Longford got themselves back into the contest just two minutes later when Evans broke through on the left flank before expertly guiding the ball beyond a helpless Gary Rogers.
Neale Fenn’s side were now looking more dangerous and were now having the better of the play with Karl Fitzsimons – a new signing from Dundalk – seeing his effort blocked by Stephen Folan.
Longford finally got the equaliser their endeavours deserved seven minutes from the end when defender McDonnell guided the ball home after a wonderful set-piece from the right by Breslin.
Dundalk piled on the pressure in the closing stages but couldn’t find a winner with Georgie Kelly hitting the bar late on, this shortly after the former UCD striker saw another effort deflected wide.
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Hoare, Brian Gartland (Daniel Cleary 79), Stephen Folan, Dane Massey (Dane Massey 74); Chris Shields (Sean Gannon 61), Robbie Benson (Dylan Hand 79); Daniel Kelly (James Carroll 89), Patrick McEleney, Michael Duffy (John Mountney 61); Patrick Hoban (Georgie Kelly 74).
Subs not used: Aaron McCarey, Ross Treacy, Lido Lotefa, Jordan Maguire, Cian Lee.
Longford Town: Lee Steacy; Karl Chambers, Michael McDonnell (Daniel Ridge 89), Conor Kenna, Anto Breslin; Shane Elworthy (Paddy O’Sullivan 79), Paul O’Conor (Tumelo Tlou 79), Dean Zambra (Karl Fitzsimons 62), Aodh Dervin, Adam Evans (Eoin O’Neill 62); Jamie Doyle (Dean Byrne 62).
Subs not used: Jack Menton.
Attendance: 150 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Aodh Dervin (Longford Town).