With no other game in the Premier Division being played on Friday the focus and attention were on Oriel Park as Second versus Third came head to head as Filippo Giovagnoli’s Dundalk looked to put the European place to bed for next season. A hectic schedule ahead for the Lilywhites would mean getting points on the board and fast was paramount with its necessity for the ‘European nights’ to continue for the Dundalk men.
Last night gave an insight as to whom Dundalk are going to fare under the Italian. In more ways than one, he is beginning to stamp his style of play in Dundalk and it is showing its colours bright.
Dundalk made three changes from the side that won in Turners Cross on Tuesday night with Brian Gartland, Greg Sloggett and Daniel Kelly coming in for Andy Boyle, Sean Murray and Nathan Oduwa called for the bench. The initial fears of wholesale changes due to European commitments were dashed.
The game was in its early exchanges when Bohemians went very close to an opener as Andre Wright latched onto a clever pass only for his effort to just flash wide with only Rogers to beat. The early warning signs of bohemians looking to extend their second place in the league rang out.
With that Dundalk with increased pressure and saw their best chance fall to Cameron Dummigan who hit a long-range effort that tested James Talbot but the Bohemians keeper it gathered on the second attempt.
Minutes later Keith Ward hit a sweet dipping effort from a distance however it just went over Gary Rogers’ crossbar. The best chance of the opening quarter fell to Patrick McEleney when Sean Gannon sent the ball into the area at the near post but it was scrambled clear. McEleney went closest with the initial cross into his path but he couldn’t direct his shot.
Both sides continued to press with no real clear cut chance. Bohemians using their wide and height in attacks to put pressure on Dundalk’s defence while Dundalk relying on speed and quick passing to try catch Bohemians off guard. Dundalk were breaking in packs widening the Oriel Park pitch and using the speed of the initial phase of play of passing to mount serious pressure on their opponents.
One of the few aspects to the no fans at games is observing in close contact how managers speak to your players. Now more than ever players and management are in focus to what they say and what they do during a game, all is laid out front and centre.
Filippo Giovagnoli is seen consistently encouraging his players with positive affirmations. Every time his team came under pressure you could hear the bellow of ‘Relax, Relax – it’s ok’
When Bohemians pressed he called his players to hold the line and not to over-commit to the attacking players. This resulted in Brian Gartland maintained his position but more importantly, was able to cut out the final attacking pass as he maintained his position in the defensive line. It seems Filippo ball is slowly taking shape.
Dundalk and Bohemians continue to carve out chances to force an opener with Sean Gannon sending in a wicked cross into the area that Hoban just headed wide. Omochere of Bohemians fed the ball through that resulted in a brilliant shot from Andy Lyons but an even better save from Gary Rogers. The resulting corner saw Andre Wright head over. Punches landed but no real knockout blow was given yet.
The second half saw Dundalk start with earnest with a fantastic turn and shot by Michael Duffy which flashed just across the face of goal. A free-kick moments later was whipped in and met by Hoban that just went past Talbots near post. Dundalk was showing more intent and continued to knock on the door.
Bohemians have another guilt-edged chance when Omochere sent in a cross which was headed goalward by Andre Wright. Somehow Keith Ward slipped in and it looked as if he was about to tap it in against his former two-time club but somehow Rogers kept it out and cleared it. Clear and present danger from the side currently occupying second place in the league.
Dundalk continued to press and another Sean Gannon’s cross almost found its way to Hoban but it was cut out just at the vital moment for a corner. Danny Grant responded moments later when he got a shot away from range but it’s straight at Rogers who gathered well. Another Dundalk set-piece was cleared by the mean Bohemians defence with it falling to Cameron Dummigan who tried his luck from range and Talbot wasn’t sure if has his far post covered, a few inches closer and it could have been the opener. Cameron Dummigan sent in a teasing cross which was headed on by Hoban, the ball fell to the path of Gannon who hit it on the half volley but it flashed wide.
As far as 0-0 draws go this was entertaining. Dundalk packed schedule however means the Lilywhites need to get wins and continue to add to the points tally. The only concern to last night was the departure of Nathan Oduwa who came on and then was forced off with an injury. With Dundalk’s hectic schedule which seems three games in six days, you have to feel that falling bodies is not what Dundalk needs. Daniel Kelly had an ice pack on his knee after his forced departure from the game last night. Both will be needed for their speed and skill in the coming weeks.
DUNDALK: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Daniel Cleary, Cameron Dummigan; Chris Shields (capt), Greg Sloggett, Daniel Kelly (Nathan Oduwa 52) (Stefan Colovic 75), Patrick McEleney (Sean Murray 65), Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban.
Substitutes not used: Aaron McCarey (GK), Jordan Flores, David McMillan, Andy Boyle.
Booked: McEleney (57), Dummigan (88)
BOHEMIANS: James Talbot; Paddy Kirk, Andy Lyons, Michael Barker, Anto Breslin; Keith Buckley (capt), Conor Levingston; Promise Omochere, Keith Ward (Danny Mandroiu 74), Danny Grant; Andre Wright.
Substitutes not used: Stephen McGuinness (GK), Dinny Corcoran, Ross Tierney, JJ Lunney, Evan Ferguson, Jack Moylan.
By Ciarán Callan