By Ed Leahy at Dalymount Park
Dundalk enjoyed yet another victory on the road as they easily accounted for Bohemians 2-0 in Friday's Airtricity League Premier Division clash at Dalymount Park.
The visitors made the breakthrough after 20 minutes when keeper Dean Delany spilled a free-kick and Tiarnan Mulvenna was on hand to smash home the opening goal.
Stephen Kenny’s side were denied several chances throughout thanks to Delany in the Bohs net, but the keeper could do nothing about the second that arrived with ten minutes remaining as a wicked deflection from Richie Towell’s long-range effort handed victory to Dundalk.
Bohemians boss Aaron Callaghan made two changes from the side that lost to Limerick on Tuesday night as Stephen Paisley replaced Dave Mulcahy, while Karl Moore came into the midfield in place of Keith Buckley, who dropped to the bench.
Stephen Kenny only made one change to the Dundalk side that were beaten by Derry last weekend as Mulvenna replaced Kurtis Byrne in the starting eleven.
Byrne has impressed all season for the Lilywhites but has picked up a thigh injury and started the game on the bench.
The Dalymount pitch has come in for a lot of stick in previous weeks and while it remains far from perfect, it has certainly improved significantly since the start of the season.
But it probably proved more of an advantage to the visitors who attempted to knock the ball around at pace from the first minute.
Dundalk nearly broke the deadlock in the seventh minute after a mis-hit clearance by keeper Dean Delany dropped at the feet of John Dillon about 40 yards from goal.
The Dundalk midfielder hoisted a hopeful lob over the retreating Delany but the Bohs keeper’s blushes were spared by the crossbar as the ball hopped on top of the woodwork and over.
The Gypsies best effort of the opening exchanges came from the cultured left foot of Ryan McEvoy. The home side were awarded a free-kick from just outside the box and midfielder McEvoy found the target but also the arms of the Dundalk keeper who was well positioned and gathered the ball with no problem.
But it was first blood to the visitors as the deadlock was broken in the 20th minutes thanks to alert striker Mulvenna.
Richie Towell’s 35-yard free-kick was not dealt with by Delany and Mulvenna was first to react and crashed the ball into the roof of the net.
The game had been pretty even up to that point but if anything, it lifted the visitors who could have put the result beyond doubt shortly afterwards with two great chances within a minute.
Goalscorer Mulvenna had a chance to double his own and his side’s tally in the 23rd minute as his placed effort produced a superb save from Delany who touched the ball around the post for a corner.
And from the resulting set-piece, it was John Dillon’s turn to test the Bohs keeper with a stinging left-footed effort from outside the box.
Again Delany got a strong hand on the ball to touch it over the bar and in the process atone for his earlier error, which had led to the Dundalk goal.
The Gypsies struggled to get any joy from a resolute and hard-working Dundalk eleven, and it was the Lilywhites who continued to dominate possession thanks in large part to an excellent collective performance from the midfield four.
Mulvenna again had a chance to grab his second of the game as a whipped free-kick from Keith Ward fell straight to the feet of the unmarked striker, but the centre-forward was unable to turn the ball home with the goal at his mercy.
The visitors remained in control and were even receiving some good fortune from referee Tomas Connolly as half-time approached.
A clear hand-ball by Vinny Faherty went unpunished by the official as the former Galway United striker fed the impressive Towell on the right-hand side of the box.
Towell’s effort was well struck and flashed past the far post, but Delany again looked to have the situation under control as he watched it go wide as the whistle blew for half-time.
Gypsies boss Aaron Callaghan tried to address the below-par performance at half-time and sent on two substitutes with David Scully and Chris Lyons sent on to replace ineffective duo Kevin Devaney and Shane Murray.
In fairness, there were plenty of red and black candidates underperforming in the opening half but Callaghan deemed two replacements would suffice.
And there was certainly more fight about the home side in the opening minutes of the half and Chris Lyons looked like a man on a mission as he immediately threw himself into the fray.
The midfielder left an early calling card on left-back Dane Massey that was not noticed by the referee but spotted by assistant Michelle O’Neill. However, the assistant was not consulted as to whether a caution was needed for Lyons who got himself away from the scene of the crime as Massey received lengthy attention.
But despite the rejuvenated Bohemians, it was Dundalk who nearly added to their lead in the 50th minute as Mulvenna found some space in the box and again tested the Bohs keeper.
Delany, once more, got down low to his right to make a great save to keep his side in the game.
And the keeper was again called into action to, once again, prevent Mulvenna from grabbing his second in the 69th minute. Dundalk captain Stephen O’Donnell rolled the perfect slide-rule pass through to the lively striker but Delany was quickly off his line and got a bit of luck to save as Mulvenna tried to toe-poke the ball under the advancing keeper.
Bohemians’ and Delany’s luck ran out ten minutes later as Dundalk sealed the victory following some sustained pressure in the home side’s penalty area.
The ball was only half cleared and midfielder Towell ran onto the ball about 30 yards from goal, trying his luck from distance.
Towell’s strike was well-hit but looked to be travelling well wide until the ball took a huge deflection off the leg of Roberto Lopes and flew into the right corner of the net with Delany wrong-footed.
The home side huffed and puffed for the remainder but failed to threaten, apart from one Lyons effort that was easily saved, and it was Dundalk substitute Darren Meenan who came closest to adding another as his snap-shot from outside the box looked to have beaten Delany but drifted just past the post.
Another three points for Stephen Kenny’s side on the road and perhaps the owners of the only artificial pitch in the league who would rather play elsewhere.
Bohemians: Dean Delaney; Michael Barker, Roberto Lopes, Stephen Paisley, Luke Byrne; Karl Moore, Derek Pender, Shane Murray (Chris Lyons 45), Ryan McEvoy (Conor O’Brien 75), Ciaran Nangle; Kevin Devaney (David Scully 45).
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; John Sullivan, Andy Boyle, Mark Rossiter, Dane Massey; John Dillon, Stephen O'Donnell (c), Richie Towell, Keith Ward (John Mountney 64); Vinny Faherty (Patrick Hoban 80), Tiarnan Mulvenna (Darren Meenan 72).
Referee: Tomas Connolly.