Declan O'Brien marked a fine individual display to give Drogheda a 1-0 win in their final Airtricity League Premier Division match, but it was all about Bohemians as they confirmed their Premier status despite this result.
O’Brien has had a barren spell of late, but he was clearly up for this game and he fired the first shot in anger, forcing Bohs keeper into a fine save.
But on the half-hour Delaney was given no chance as ‘Fabio’ latched onto a long clearance to fire home from 20 yards.
For a while Bohs lived nervously as relegation rivals Bray remained goal-less against Dundalk, and despite forcing a series of corners Micheal Schlingermann in Drogheda’s goal remained untested.
Conor Murphy missed a header from point-blank range on 87 minutes, just before Drogs sub Gavin Brennan fired against the post at the other end, but in the end Bohs were safe because of Bray’s defeat.
A huge Bohs support crammed into Hunky Dorys Park for the season finale, but they were spared a tension-filled climax because fellow strugglers Bray Wanderers were losing at home to Dundalk and in the end they finished the season two points above the relegation play-off place.
There was no goalmouth action whatsoever in a tepid first 18 minutes, but then Declan O'Brien brought some life to the contest with a stinging volley that was palmed away by Bohs netminder Dean Delaney.
Bohs tried to hit back through Conor Murphy as he cut in from the left, only to slice his shot badly wide, but Karl Moore was considerably more accurate in the 25th minute when he curled a free kick against the crossbar, with Micheal Schlingermann in the Drogheda goal well beaten.
In response, Alan Byrne headed a David Cassidy corner over the bar, and a minute later Delaney parried another fierce O’Brien shot and Drogs right-back Michael Daly nodded the rebound high over the bar.
But the Bohs defence was eventually unlocked when O’Brien seized on a long, hopeful ball out of defence and ran unchallenged to the edge of the box before rifling a shot past Delaney.
Coming up to half-time Conor Murphy and Dave Mulcahy were both denied by Schlingermann as the visitors rallied, while referee Dave McKeon booked the former for simulation after he went down under a challenge from Derek Prendergast.
Yet Drogheda nearly got in for a second goal when Jason Marks stabbed wide from Cathal Brady’s cross and the sides turned round with Bohs still two points clear of the dreaded relegation play-off thanks to Dundalk’s goal in Bray.
A lively start to the second half saw half-chances at both ends and Ryan McEvoy had a 20-yard free kick blocked by Cassidy in Drogheda’s defensive wall.
But Bohs’ need for an equaliser became that much less urgent as news filtered through of a second Dundalk goal in Bray.
The visitors forced a series of corners but didn’t generate a chance of note until the 87th minute when Conor Murphy headed wide from inside the six-yard box.
Drogheda finished strongly, however, and substitute Gavin Brennan missed a sitter on 89, curling against the post from point-blank range.
Drogheda United: Micheal Schlingermann; Michael Daly, Alan McNally, Derek Prendergast, Shane Grimes; Alan Byrne; Cathal Brady, David Cassidy (Eric Foley 62), Paul O’Conor, Jason Marks (Gavin Brennan 79); Declan O’Brien (Peter Hynes 71).
Subs not used: Gavin Holohan, Philip Hand, Graham Rusk, Gabriel Sava.
Bohemians: Dean Delaney; Derek Pender, Roberto Lopes, Anto Murphy, Luke Byrne; Kevin Devaney (Keith Buckley 69), Stephen Traynor, Dave Mulcahy, Ryan McEvoy (Owen Heary 79), Karl Moore (Andy Mulligan 62); Conor Murphy.
Subs not used: Dave Scully, Dan Byrne, Shane Murray, Greg Murray.
Referee: Dave McKeon (Meath).