Ciarán Fisher reports from Oriel Park
Dundalk and Bohemians had to settle for a point apiece from a scoreless draw in Oriel Park on Friday night.
Bohemians’ preparations for the game were disrupted by a positive COVID-19 case in their camp, but if the writing wasn’t already on the wall – the result of both sides’ title credentials this season came back negative tonight.
The first half didn’t produce any goals, although in the opening spells, it was a decent free flowing game. Dundalk began brightly but were almost undone inside of five minutes.
Bohemians were gifted an early chance, when the ball skited through the home side’s box and Promise Omochere flicked it on for Andre Wright. In front of an open goal, Wright spurned an absolute sitter, and what would be Bohs’ best chance of the match.
Dundalk edged out the visitors on possession without creating a glut of opportunities. The Gypsies looked dangerous on the break and every time the Lilywhites looked to be building up to something, the black and red shirts were apt to give the Dundalk defenders a scare. Danny Grant and Andre Wright more often were the culprits.
Patrick McEleney was unlucky on 13 minutes not to have opened the scoring, when he was teed up by Sean Gannon - just yards out, the ball was just nicked off his toe before he could get the purchase needed.
Four minutes later, Promise Omochere hit the post. A ball crossed in from Anto Breslin was comfortably gathered by Gary Rogers but the ever hopeful Wright anticipated a spill and clattered into the upright while still eyeing the ball. He bounced straight back up and was a constant outlet for the Bohs.
The lustre of the game faded into the back end of the half with little chances of note as the match remained scoreless at the break.
Dundalk started the second half well and eked out a number of decent chances.
Ten minutes after the restart, Patrick Hoban showed good footwork and weighed a clever ball inside the box for Duffy, albeit at a very tight angle; his shot-come-cross was narrowly wide and any purchase on it at all from an incoming player and it was a certain goal.
In the next foray forward, the Louth men managed to put the ball in the net on the cusp of the hour: Unfortunately it was by virtue of Patrick McEleney taking a quick free to Hoban, that the referee deemed to have been taken too quickly. McEleney earned a yellow for the privilege.
When the set piece was taken a second time, the Lilywhites came close once more through Hoban, who headed narrowly wide.
At the other end, Omochere and Wright combined well for Wright to head the ball goalward. The ball seemed to hang for an eternity on the line, but a last ditch stretch from Dan Cleary denied the onrushing Keith Ward.
The Champions introduced Oduwa for Daniel Kelly at half time and he did cause trouble for the visitors, but his involvement was cut short due to a knock and he was subsequently replaced by Stefan Colovic after just twenty minutes of game-time.
With less than a quarter of an hour remaining, Cameron Dummigan let fly with a long range piledriver which had to be watched all the way by Talbot. But as the minutes left creeped towards single digits, so too did the chances.
Hoban controlled a ball over the top and looked set to break the deadlock, as he so often has, but the linesman deemed him to be offside. It must have been tight, the call would have had the Shed breathing down his neck had a crowd been here.
A goal wasn’t to be and while Dundalk were certainly on top for the duration, the game could have gone either way. Bohs looked lively on the break, but didn’t seem capable of generating that moment of magic to keep their title hopes alive against the outgoing champions.
The point secured at least a runners up sport for Bohs but if they lose their next game – a home match against Finn Harps next weekend – then Shamrock Rovers will be crowned champions.
Dundalk FC: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Chris Shields, Micheal Duffy, Greg Sloggett, Patrick McEleney (Sean Murray 65), Cameron Dummigan, Daniel Kelly (Nathan Oduwa 51 (Stefan Colovic 74)), Patrick Hoban
Subs not used: Aaron McCarey; Jordan Flores, Stefan Colovic, Andy Boyle, David McMillian
Booked: Patrick McEleney 57, Cameron Dummigan 92.
Bohemians: James Talbot; Andy Lyons Anto Breslin, Keith Ward (Danny Mandriou 74), Conor Levingston, Andre Wright, Keith Buckley, Paddy Kirk, Micheal Barker, Danny Grant, Promise Omochere.
Subs not used: Stephen Mc Guinness; Dinny Corcoran, Ross Tierney, JJ Lunney, Evan Ferguson, Jack Moylan.
Refereee: Damien McGrath
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Anto Breslin