Stephen O'Donnell had goalkeeper Nathan Shepperd to thank as Dundalk claimed a point on his return to Richmond Park.
The 36-year-old’s departure from St Patrick’s Athletic in the wake of last November’s FAI Cup win over Bohemians left a sour taste in the mouths of many around Inchicore and the home support let their feelings be known upon his arrival at the ground and at various points throughout the game.
It was O’Donnell who would leave the happier of the two managers though as his side escaped with a share of the spoils that their performance scarcely warranted.
Two incredible saves from Welsh U21 international Shepperd to deny Eoin Doyle proved the difference on the night with the striker even shaking his hand after the second of them in an acknowledgement of the goalkeeper’s brilliance.
The former Brentford player now has five clean sheets in nine matches - a figure it took 30 games for the Louth men to reach last year - and has only conceded two penalties in his last seven outings.
Tim Clancy’s side dominated for large periods and would have been deserving winners with Darragh Burns starring but O’Donnell has made Dundalk hard to beat and they proved it again on his Richmond return.
It was one-way traffic in the early stages with 17-year-old birthday boy Adam Murphy running the show in midfield on his league debut.
Pat's almost took the lead on four minutes when Lewis Macari’s attempted clearance was charged down by Billy King whose cross spun up off Eoin Doyle. It looked comfortable for Shepperd to collect but a miscommunication saw him collide with Darragh Leahy with Darragh Burns pouncing only to be denied at close range by the goalkeeper.
There was another half chance three minutes later when Paul Doyle failed to deal with Anto Breslin’s cross but his namesake Eoin could only fire tamely at Shepperd.
The home side then had a big chance on 11 minutes when Ronan Coughlan was played in on the left by a superb pass from Murphy but after cutting back onto his right foot the former Sligo Rovers player sent his effort well wide.
Murphy was again instrumental for his side two minutes later when he played King in behind the Dundalk defence but despite rounding Shepperd the Welsh U21 international did well to send him wide with the Scot only able to find the side-netting from an acute angle.
It would take until the 18th minute for the visitors to threaten with a short corner from Greg Sloggett flicked towards the edge of the box by Patrick Hoban for Robbie Benson to latch onto but the former St Pat’s man saw his effort blocked down by Joe Redmond.
We need your consent to load this comcast-player contentWe use comcast-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences
The Saints were then dealt a major blow on 20 minutes when Murphy went down with a hamstring injury that brought his evening to an early conclusion.
This allowed Dundalk to grow more into the game with Steven Bradley and Benson both having headers just off target.
The visitors then had two good chances before the break with James Abankwah making a good block to deny Benson following Hoban’s pull back from the right on 44 minutes. Hoban then glanced wide from the resulting corner from Bradley as the sides went off scoreless at the break.
Pat’s once again started on top on the restart with Macari forced to make a good block to deny King an opening on 54 minutes.
More pressure followed with plenty of last ditch defending before Eoin Doyle saw his header on 63 minutes tipped over the bar by Shepperd from Burns’ cross.
Bradley did have a rare effort for the visitors three minutes later but his long range attempt was well off target.
Shepperd then denied Doyle again on 83 minutes with a superb stop at close range after the ex-Bolton Wanderers striker had been picked out by Burns’ cross.
Jason McClelland then had another effort from long range with a minute remaining but it was straight down the throat of the 21-year-old.
Daniel Kelly had a chance to snatch it for Dundalk in stoppage time when he got on the end of a cross from Macari but his header was straight at Joseph Anang.
St Patrick’s Athletic: Joseph Anang; Jack James Abankwah, Joe Redmond, Tom Grivosti, Anto Breslin; Adam O’Reilly Adam Murphy (Jason McClelland 24); Darragh Burns, Ronan Coughlan (Mark Doyle 64), Billy King (Tunde Owolabi 84); Eoin Doyle.
Dundalk: Nathan Shepperd; Lewis Macari, Mark Connolly, Andy Boyle, Darragh Leahy; Greg Sloggett (Keith Ward 77), Paul Doyle (Dan Williams HT), Robbie Benson; Steven Bradley (Joe Adams 69), Patrick Hoban (David McMillan 90), Daniel Kelly.Referee: Rob Harvey (Dublin).