Captain Brian Gartland rescued a point for Dundalk in their visit to a resolute and determined Finn Harps side.
Completely against the run of play, Keith Cowan headed home after Raff Cretaro’s industry to win a corner and craft to then deliver it, gave Ollie Horgan’s side the unlikeliest of leads four minutes before the interval.
Harps, quoted as much as 12/1 beforehand on some bookmakers’ blackboards, had something to hold onto. But with 20 minutes left, Gartland headed home in similar fashion from Michael Duffy’s delivery from a corner for a share of the spoils.
With Dundalk pressing the accelerator, 13 minutes from time, somehow, they managed not to go in front. Sean Hoare hit the post from a matter of inches after Gareth Harkin had got the slightest of touches to clear off the line from Gartland.
There was a bit of a flare-up on full-time with players and officials from both sides getting involved in some pushing and shoving. Calm was soon restored.
Duffy, on the turn from a throw-in by Brian Gartland on seven minutes, brought a smart save from Peter Burke down low.
Pat Hoban, 14 minutes later, was similarly out of luck with a fine improvised volley when a header from inside the area from Sean Murray fell his way. The ball flew just wide.
The home team were struggling to get into any sort of fluency and whilst living off scraps, saw Dane Massey’s free-kick clip their crossbar.
After Cowan’s opener, Duffy’s corner was glanced just wide at the near post by Sean Hoare.
By the three-quarter mark, Harps were still in front although goalkeeper Burke wasn’t as over-worked as might’ve been expected.
With 10 minutes left on the clock, Harps substitute Niall McGinley got away and into space only to see Hoare make an excellent last-ditch tackle as the trigger was about to be drawn.
With the temperature rising, Burke made a good save from a Duffy attempt with the outside of the boot. But it’s a second 1-1 in a row for the league champions under John Gill, following their draw against Sligo last weekend.
Finn Harps: Peter Burke; John Kavanagh, Jacob Borg, Keith Cowan, Sam Todd, Daniel O’Reilly; Nathan Boyle (Caolan McAleer 85), Gareth Harkin, Mark Coyle, Raffaele Cretaro (Niall McGinley 74); Sean Boyd (Mikey Place 66).
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon Brian Gartland, Sean Hoare, Dane Massey; John Mountney (Daniel Kelly 65), Dean Jarvis (Jordan Flores 77), Chris Shields, Michel Duffy; Sean Murray (Cameron Dummigan 84), Pat Hoban.