by Shane Callaghan
Gary O’Neill scored an 89th-minute equaliser as Drogheda United recovered from a two-goal deficit and held Bohemians to a 2-2 draw at Dalymount tonight.
A first-half brace from Dinny Corcoran looked to have done enough for Owen Heary’s charges to down their Louth counterparts.
However, O’Neill, who earlier reduced the arrears, completed the comeback with one minute of normal time remaining in front of the euphoric travelling fans.
Drogheda manager Robbie Horgan made five changes to his starting lineup from Monday’s 3-1 EA Sports Cup win away to Crumlin United.
Austin McCann and Gavan Holohan dropped to the bench in favour of Alan McNally and Michael Daly – the latter of whom captained the side in the absence of the suspended Gavin Brennan.
Brennan, who was sent off in last week’s 4-1 victory over Dundalk in this season’s curtain-raiser, sat out for Carl Walshe while Daire Doyle and Eric Foley replaced Paul Crowley and Declan O’Brien respectively.
Bohs started much the better of both sides and had the lead after 16 minutes. Craig Walsh galloped away from Daly on the right flank before playing a superb outside-of-the-boot pass for Corcoran, who slotted beyond David Ryan.
Ciaran McGuigan fashioned the visitors’ first attempt at goal, sending a speculative volley narrowly past Dean Delaney’s post on 26 minutes.
The hosts doubled their advantage shortly after the half-hour mark as Corcoran bagged his and his team’s second from the penalty spot after McGuigan was penalised for a foul in the area.
The marksman could, and perhaps should have completed a first-half hat-trick by directing a free header into the arms of Ryan seven minutes from the interval, before O’Neill rendered it a costly miss moments later.
From the resulting kick-out, the striker capitalised on a defensive mix-up between Delaney and his back-four to slot home United’s opener.
Heary’s troops should have re-established their two-goal lead on the stroke of half time, with Corcoran spurning another opportunity to bag his treble by firing wide after being played through by Steven Beattie.
The Gypsies’ profligacy in front of goal continued after the break as Paddy Kavanagh fired well over the bar with only Ryan to beat.
Eric Foley and Cathal Brady both saw efforts cleared off the line in the second half, while Stephen Traynor missed a gilt-edged chance by heading into the hands of Ryan from close range.
The hosts soon paid the ultimate penalty for a series of missed opportunities as O’Neill pounced in the closing stages to secure a point for Horgan’s men.
by Robert O'Reilly
It’s first against second on Friday night as Bohemians take on Drogheda United at Dalymount Park, kick-off 7.45pm.
United go into this game buoyed by consecutive victories over Dundalk in the league last week and a 3-1 win after extra time over Crumlin United in the EA Sports Cup on Monday.
The Drogs will be without captain Gavin Brennnan who will start a two game ban while Philly Hughes, who would have been unavailable regardless due to injury, has been handed a three game suspension.
Goalkeeper Michéal Schlingermann is expected to miss up to four weeks of action as he recovers from a quad injury and both Declan O’Brien and Gary O’Neill are rated as doubtful having picked up knocks during the Crumlin game.
New signing Stephen Maher will come into the Drogheda squad providing the Club receive clearance in time.
Drogheda defeated Bohemians in the final game of last season courtesy of a Declan O’Brien strike while the other two league encounters ended in stalemate.
United also record a 3-0 victory over the Phibsborough Club on their path to the FAI Cup final.
As for the Gypsies, Owen Heary’s side have made an impressive start to the season, recording back-to-back 3-0 victories over UCD.
Bohs will be without Anto Murphy, Lee Walace, Karl Moore and Andy Mulligan due to injury while midfielder Dave Mulcahy will undergo a late fitness test ahead of the game.
Speaking on Thursday, Drogheda manager Robbie Horgan bemoaned the suspensions and injuries that have plagued his side so early in the season.
“Going to extra-time on Monday against Crumlin was hardly ideal preparation, especially considering the injuries we picked up during the game. The squad is tight enough as it is so when five players are unavailable through injuries or suspensions it’s going to hit us hard.
“Bohemians are doing very well under Owen Heary. I watched them beat Bray Wanderers 5-1 in the Leinster Senior Cup and I felt they were a well-drilled, organised side. They have an excellent balance of youth and experience that I am sure will serve them well over the course of the season.
“We will be up against it on Friday. Bohemians will have a big crowd in their favour but I’m sure Drogheda will bring strong support too. It’s a top of the table clash, probably didn’t think I would be saying that after game week one but that’s what it is and I’m confident we can leave with a result.”
Paddy Kavanagh (Stephen Traynor 67’)
Dinny Corcoran (Jason Byrne 77’)
Daire Doyle (Stephen Maher 68’)
Eric Foley (Gavan Holohan 68’)
Carl Walshe (Declan O’Brien 77’)
Dinny Corcoran 14’ & 28’ (pen)
Gary O’Neill 35’ & 89’
Paddy Kavanagh (yellow) 12’
Shane Grimes (yellow) 33’