Gary O’Neill’s 89th-minute equaliser snatched an ill-deserved point for Drogheda United, but Bohemians will rue a glut of missed chances after throwing away a two-goal lead at Dalymount Park. It was a tale of two strikers as Dinny Corcoran’s brace put the home side two up within the half hour, but it was O’Neill who had the last word, capitalising on sloppy Bohs defending to keep the visitors on top of the fledgling SSE Airtricity League table.

In a game of numerous chances, slack defending, and some excellent attacking football, Owen Heary will be by far the more disappointed manager, with his Pro License classmate Robbie Horgan content with a point on his trip back up the M1, writes KEVIN FAGAN.


Bohs made two enforced changes from last week’s comprehensive opening victory over UCD, with Ryan McEvoy and Kevin Devaney replacing the injured Dave Mulcahy and Karl Moore respectively. However, it was McEvoy’s midfield partner Craig Walsh who ignited this game in the 14th minute. The former ‘Football’s Next Star’ candidate burst through two challenges on the left flank, and unleashed a sublime through ball with the outside of his right boot. The pass curled majestically into the path of Dinny Corcoran, who controlled well, steadied himself, and tucked the ball neatly into the bottom corner past Dave Ryan.

Bohs were showing the kind of attacking flair that has many fans chirping about a top half finish already, with Paddy Kavanagh again weaving some magic in the hole behind Corcoran. It was a slaloming run from Kavanagh that instigated Bohs’ second. He cut inside from the left flank, showed quick feet, and toe-poked it across to Corcoran, who was felled from behind by a lunging Alan McNally. The familiar shiny-topped figure of referee Dave McKeon pointed to the spot without hesitation. Though Ryan McEvoy enquired about taking the penalty, there was no prying the ball from Corcoran, who confidently slotted the ball into the same corner to make it 2-0 before the half hour.

The boisterous home crowd sang ‘we are top of the league’, and there seemed to be little danger of note from a sluggish Drogheda, who hadn’t registered a shot on target until a 35th minute disaster. Left back Jack Memery was off the pitch having treatment for a burst lip, but the confusion that occurred between Dean Delany and Roberto Lopes was baffling. A hopeful long punt seemed to be skipping too far ahead of the chasing Gary O’Neill, who at one point, checked his run as he thought Delany was going to gather. However, the Bohs keeper never came, Lopes let O’Neill go, and the Drogs hitman somehow squeezed the ball in from a stupendously-tight angle. It was the kind of goal a manager has nightmares about.

Despite the setback, Bohs could have all-but killed the game either side of half time. First, a lightning break involving Walsh, Kavanagh, and Steven Beattie put Corcoran clean through, but the striker flashed his shot high and wide with a hat-trick at his mercy. Then, just six minutes after the restart, Corcoran combined with Kevin Devaney to release Kavanagh, who blazed over from 16 yards with only Ryan to beat. Knowing glances were shared among the Bohs faithful – these missed chances were going to cost the men in black (with a splash of red) dear.

Drogheda had two great chances to equalise before the goal eventually came, and both involved sheer luck combined with heroic defending. First, a weak Delany punch fell straight to Eric Foley, but the midfielder could only head straight back at the Bohs keeper. Then, with just 4 minutes remaining, Aidan Price made an awesome block on the goal-line to deny Cathal Brady. Bohs went up the other end immediately, and when Beattie’s cross found sub Stephen Traynor’s head 8 yards out, the victory should have been secured. Traynor however, headed straight at Ryan, and Bohs were finally punished for a lack of ruthlessness in the 89th minute. An in-swinging corner fell to the back post, where Derek Pender crucially slipped, allowing Gary O’Neill to force the ball home and send the visiting supporters wild in the Shed End. A crushing blow for Bohs, but all credit to O’Neill. That the former Bohs man is even playing football at all is an inspiration, never mind being Drogheda’s sharpest, most intelligent attacking threat. If a last minute equaliser has to be conceded, better it go to O’Neill than anyone else.

All that sets us up for a simply mouthwatering clash with Shamrock Rovers next Friday. Dublin 7 will be hopping.

Bohemians: Dean Delany, Derek Pender, Roberto Lopes, Aidan Price, Jack Memery, Ryan McEvoy, Craig Walsh, Steven Beattie, Paddy Kavanagh (Stephen Traynor, 67), Kevin Devaney, Dinny Corcoran (Jason Byrne, 77). Subs not used: Lee Murphy, Dan Byrne, Darragh Reynor, Keith Buckley, Philly McCabe.

Drogheda United: Dave Ryan, Michael Daly, Alan McNally, Paul Andrews, Shane Grimes, Cathal Brady, Ciaran McGuigan, Carl Walshe (Declan ‘Fabio’ O’Brien, 77), Daire Doyle (Stephen Maher, 68), Eric Foley (Gavin Holohan, 68), Gary O’Neill. Subs not used: Dylan Connolly, Paul Crowley, Austin McCann, Ciaran O’Connor.

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