Dundalk survive spot kick scare to hold on for hard-earned draw
Dundalk survived a late penalty scare and were then denied one of their own in a game of frantic late drama at Oriel Park last night.
Cork City supporters held their collective breath when Rovers' Ryan Brennan stepped up from 12 yards but were left exhaling in dismay after he blasted over.
Things looked good for Dundalk early on when Darren Meenan blazed past Luke Byrne with a lung-bursting run from his own half to pick out Kurtis Byrne at the back post but his first time strike was always rising.
After that, nerves and slackness crept into the Lilywhites' play and although Rovers saw much of the ball, they failed to muster anything productive when in possession, a Kieran Waters drive straight at Peter Cherrie all they had to show in terms of shots in the opening 45.
Despite Dundalk looking far from their best, they were enough of a threat to keep Pat Fenlon prowling anxiously on the touchline.
His heart would have been in his mouth when Daryl Horgan wove his way in from the wing to fire one at goal which Barry Murphy saved but the goalkeeper did not even have to earn his wages minutes later when the former Cork City winger ran through only to drag his attempt off target.
Richie Towell also failed to call Murphy into action and Kurtis Byrne did fire one on goal that Murphy scrambled to collect at the second attempt.
Patrick Hoban fashioned the first chance of the second when he won a corner which he then met with a strong header, which flew over the bar.
Then on 76 minutes, Karl Sheppard gave Brennan the chance to become an adopted son of Cork when the striker got on to Ruaidhri Higgins' loss of possession and was felled in the area by Peter Cherrie.
Brennan strode forward to take the kick but lost his footing at the vital moment and his effort went wildly over the top, along with, probably, Cork's title hopes.
The drama was not quite finished as Dundalk themselves were denied a spot kick when Simon Madden used his arm to nudge the ball away from Stephen O'Donnell in the box while Patrick Cregg was also sent off in the final moments.