One can, and indeed has, made a fool of oneself by calling the outcome of a title race prematurely but Dundalk's hold on their crown is in a really bad way after they came out the wrong side of a three-goal thriller at Dalymount, which had everything bar an audience.

Dundalk, who were pretty poor in a 1-1 draw against St Patrick's last week, slipped two points behind second-place Bohs and five behind Shamrock Rovers, who go to Derry Sunday with a game in hand.

Indeed, with Bohs without Danny Mandroiu, it was hard to say with confidence which of these will prove a bigger challenge to the Hoops this season. Danny Grant and Keith Buckley on target for the home side, before Michael Duffy clawed one back before half-time.

In particular, Dundalk's defence was miles off the pace, Bohs opening it with surprising ease and regularity, but it would be harsh to say that the champions did not work hard to pursue a result. Even a draw would have been far from ideal; nothing at all raises the grizzly spectre of trailing Rovers with 11 games to play by eight points come Sunday evening.

Bohs need merely worry about themselves. They were full of endeavour as ever but also created lots of chances. A top-four finish again looks imminently achievable and, whilst they stay within touch of their main Dublin rivals, a bid for the title need not be deemed avaricious.

Dundalk's players' body language was a bit of a mixed bag here and there were many worrying signs for their fans, many of whom will have watched in dismay on WatchLOI, with Shamrock Rovers fans for once cheering on Bohemians with gusto from their own living rooms.

Bohs took the lead on seven minutes. Kris Twardek did well on the left-hand side and, marshalled by Sean Gannon, he pulled it back for Anto Breslin. He curled over a smashing cross, Danny Grant had stolen in at the back post beyond Dane Massey and he fashioned a quite brilliant header across Gary Rogers and in.

Twardek again was causing Gannon problems before the second on 15 minutes, his cross laid back by Grant to Buckley, whose shot was deflected past Rogers via an Andy Boyle deflection.

Dan Cleary got in a vital block as Andre Wright pulled the trigger on 25 minutes, as Bohs grew in confidence.

Dundalk looked rattled by the half-hour mark, the excellent Twardek forcing Rogers into a save from a corner the visitors failed to deal with.

Sloppy play by Jordan Flores epitomised Dundalk's lethargy, JJ Lunney put through by Twardek but Rogers saving with his feet.

Daniel Kelly, who trudged in a disconsolate manner to the dressing room and chucked his water bottle into the near-empty Jodi Stand, was replaced by John Mountney on 34 minutes. Colovic now moved to the right wing from the number ten slot.

Moments later a stunning Colovic cross evaded Patrick Hoban, who was double-marked. Boyle then headed over from a Duffy corner and one felt Dundalk desperately needed a goal before the break.

Colovic, who looks a real find, set up Dundalk's reply, which the game needed to an extent on 42 minutes. Michael Duffy achieved space at the far post and headed home past a helpless Stephen McGuinness.

Dundalk still looked really ropey at the back and from Twardek's cross, an inexplicably free Wright almost replicated Grant's headed goal, only for the superb Rogers to parry over the bar.

Bohs, who looked so comfortable, were blessed not to lose their lead just after the restart. Duffy's cross from the left found the league's top scorer Hoban, who headed against the bar when he looked sure to score, before McGuinness denied Mountney from close range.

Dundalk's rear guard was again stretched on 54 minutes. A sublime Keith Ward ball again exposed Massey but Grant pulled his effort badly wide.

Dundalk's mental shakiness was summed up shortly afterwards when Flores fizzed a pass to his right with Gannon leaving it to Colovic, who left it to Gannon, who watched the ball go in between them and out for a throw.

Ward then put Twardek in but Rogers again made himself big, many in the ground wondering when they saw a Dundalk defence look so exposed.

They were nearing half an hour into the second half when substitute Dawson Devoy curled his shot wide at the Des Kelly Stand end, the Gypsies looking for the clinching third. They did not need it.

With 13 minutes left, Dan Cleary hooked a shot wide after Colovic had been fouled by Breslin, with Dundalk desperate to get parity. It would not come and nor will the title if they do not improve markedly and soon. Even that will probably not be enough.

Mountney had a good chance with eight minutes left, Grant sloppy under pressure and putting him in but the Mayoman was off target. Thereafter, Bohs were pretty comfortable.

Dundalk: Rogers; Gannon, Boyle, Cleary, Massey (Oduwa 87); Kelly (Mountney 34), Shields, Flores (Patching 66), Duffy; Colovic; Hoban.

Bohemians: McGuinness; Lyons, Casey, Cornwall, Breslin; Grant, Buckley, Lunney, Twardek; Ward (Devoy 72); Wright.

Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin)