Bohemians debuted a new away strip, a compact new formation, and a steely grit as they grabbed a hard-earned point in Oriel Park against last season’s Airtricity League runners up. Owen Heary’s men banished the demons of last week’s Derby defeat with a rousing rearguard performance against a largely-dominant Dundalk side.

In front of a big early-season crowd in the northeast, Aidan Price cancelled out Brian Gartland’s opener in a game decided by two first half set-piece headers. Those goals came within three minutes of each other, but Bohs spent most of the second period camped in their own half, and have Dean Delany to thank for the point as he pulled off a superb injury time save from John Mountney, writes KEVIN FAGAN.


Boss Heary made 5 changes to the team that lost to Shamrock Rovers and reverted to a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Dan Byrne shielding the back four. Karl Moore played from the left, Patrick Kavanagh from the right, with Jason Byrne ploughing a lone furrow ahead of Keith Buckley and Craig Walsh. The other change saw Darragh Reynor step in for Jack Memery at left back. This was the first outing for the much talked-about away strip. Although playing in an unfamiliar colour, Bohs certiainly got the rub of the green for most of the 90 minutes here.

The Oriel Park pitch is one that surely no one in the league likes playing on. Bouncy, bobbly, rough, and generally rather awkward, the astro turf in Dundalk never seems to suit a flowing game. This was certainly the case in the opening 15 minutes, with miscontrols and misplaced passes dominating procedures. The first flash at goal came from a likely source – Jason Byrne was 25 yards out at a tough angle, but his snapshot swerved and dipped just above Peter Cherrie’s crossbar. This seemed to spring Dundalk into life, and Dean Delany had to make a fine reaction save after good solo work from Kurtis Byrne.

Dundalk were struggling to create anything in behind a rigid Bohs, but managed to squeeze into the lead on 28 minutes. An outswinging Darren Meenan corner was met by the ample forehead of Brian Gartland, whose header had goal written all over it from the moment he made contact. A disappointing concession for Owen Heary, who will be disgruntled at the ease in which Gartland headed the Lilywhites into the lead.

The giddy home fans on the Shed Side weren’t hopping for long, as the men in green got a quick-fire equaliser just two minutes later. Darragh Reynor’s delicious in-swinging free-kick found Aidan Price, and the towering defender placed his penalty-spot header expertly into the far corner. Cue wild scenes from the away fans. The Gypsies could even have gone into the break ahead after a stroke of genius from Byrne almost came off. Pouncing on loose control from Dane Massey, the veteran striker looked up, spotted Cherrie off his line, and tried an audacious 40 yard attempt. The Dundalk keeper scrambled back to tip the ball over the bar, and half time came.

The editors for RTE’s Soccer Republic will have a job finding any positive highlights for Bohs in the second period. Happy with the scoreline, the Gypsies set out their stall to defend for the second half. The wind increased as the game progressed, making for a tense final 20 minutes. Delany was Bohs’ stand-out performer. Richie Towell mimicked Jason Byrne’s first half effort, forcing Delany to tip his 30 yard chip just over the bar. Sub John Mountney caused Reynor plenty of problems on the right flank, but Bohs bravely kept fighting. The home fans were increasingly frustrated, and you felt there was one big chance left in the game as 5 minutes of stoppage time was announced.

The chance arrived on 92 minutes, and Delany proved his worth with an absolutely outstanding save. Sub David McMillan launched a long throw into the box – the ball bounced around, and sat up perfectly for John Mountney. His right-footed volley looked to be the winner, but Delany’s outstretched claw saved the day for Bohs.

Next up is an interesting three-game in 7 days run of Bray (home), Athlone (away), and Limerick (home). Owen Heary will be hoping to at least double the current points tally of 5 by April 11th.

Dundalk: Peter Cherrie, Sean Gannon (Ruaidhri Higgins, 82), Andy Boyle, Brian Gartland, Dane Massey, Stephen O’Donnell, Richie Towell, Daryl Horgan, Darren Meenan (John Mountney, 66), Kurtis Byrne, Pat Hoban. Subs not used: Chris Shields, Marc Griffin, Manuel Kaguako, Gabriel Sava.

Bohemians:  Dean Delany, Derek Pender, Roberto Lopes, Aidan Price, Darragh Raynor, Keith Buckley, Dan Byrne (Ryan McEvoy, 86), Craig Walsh, Karl Moore, Paddy Kavanagh (Stephen Beattie, 66), Jason Byrne (Dinny Corcoran, 90+2). Subs not used: Philly McCabe, Stephen Traynor, Kevin Devaney, Lee Murphy. Man of the Match: Dean Delany

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