European football is beckoning for Bohemians in 2020 after goals from Luke Wade-Slater and Andre Wright ended Dundalk's long unbeaten run at Dalymmount Park on Friday night.

With Derry City and St Patrick's Athletic watching on, Keith Long's side knew that a win would copper fasten their grip on third place and they took their chances to send the champions sprawling to their first league defeat since April 12th, some 24 games ago.

Despite missing a host of regulars, Bohs were still able to name the same team that beat Cork City seven nights earlier with Ross Tierney starting in midfield after being excused from the Irish U19s' friendly against Denmark.

A bout of flu hit the Dundalk camp during the week but Vinny Perth still named a formidable-looking line-up with Georgie Kelly leading the attack in the absence of suspended top scorer Patrick Hoban.

The Lilywhites head coach used the opportunity to experiment with a flexible looking 3-4-3 formation and Dundalk controlled the vast majority of the opening stages with Kelly flashing a 12th-minute header wide from Jamie McGrath's left-wing cross.

Cornwall required lengthy treatment

McGrath was involved again five minutes later, cutting the Bohs' backline open with a sublime pass to find Sean Murray's run in behind Scott Allerdice but the Dundalk midfielder couldn't mark his 26th birthday with a finish to match.

The hosts edged their noses in front with 28 minutes played. Danny Grant's brilliant pass invited Wade-Slater to chase on the right and he exploited the space in behind wing-back Dane Massey to steer the ball past the stranded Gary Rogers.

It was the first time that Dundalk had fallen behind in a league game since July 5th and their frustration started to show with Robbie Benson booked for a cynical trip on Keith Ward.

Long had to rejig things when Rob Cornwall was stretchered off two minutes before the break after going down in his own penalty area. He was replaced by Aaron Barry who slotted in seamlessly.

As a result, referee Graham Kelly added five additional minutes at the end of the half and Ward went close to making it 2-0, firing just off target after Sean Hoare inadvertently set the ball up nicely for him with a poor touch.


There was still time for a chance at the other end but Daniel Kelly waited took too long to pull the trigger after the target opened up for him when James Talbot came and got nowhere near a Cameron Dummigan cross.

Dundalk continued to make unforced errors at the start of the second half with Hoare - who tested Talbot with a low drive - again culpable. Perth reacted by introducing Sean Gannon and Michael Duffy for Dummigan and Daniel Kelly on the hour mark.

Despite that, the visitors looked well off-colour and Wright put Bohs firmly in the driving seat with a fine goal in the 64th minute, outmuscling Hoare on the edge of the box before rifling a cracking effort past Rogers.

A Sean Murray effort aside, Dundalk never really looked like recovering and Tierney should have made it 3-0 when he pounced on another mistake, this time by Benson, to advance on goal but he pulled his effort wide of the target.

Duffy did pull one back in the final seconds of the game but it did little to dampen the mood amongst the home support and with two games remaining, Long's young side need just a single point to bring European football to Phibsborough next season.

Bohemian FC: James Talbot; Derek Pender, Rob Cornwall (Aaron Barry 43), James Finnerty, Paddy Kirk; Scott Allerdice, Ross Tierney; Luke Wade-Slater, Keith Ward (Dawson Devoy 84), Danny Grant; Andre Wright (Ryan Swan 90). 

Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Daniel Cleary, Sean Hoare (Lido Lotefa 71), Andy Boyle; Cameron Dummigan (Sean Gannon 60), Robbie Benson, Sean Murray, Dane Massey; Daniel Kelly, Georgie Kelly, Jamie McGrath (Michael Duffy 60).

Referee: Graham Kelly