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Michael Barker of Bohemians

Michael Barker of Bohemians

SPORTSFILE

Michael Barker of Bohemians

It’s a reflection of the improvement in Bohemians that they can send a depleted side to Dundalk and come away with a point which reflects that they are full value for their likely second placed finish in the table.

Keith Long was without three first-choice centre-halves, for various reasons, with Michael Barker and Paddy Kirk, his cover in the full-back department, forming an unusual partnership. They weren’t unduly flustered by a strong Dundalk side that flattered to deceive with Barker alert to make one smart second-half block from Patrick Hoban, with the strength of the Gypsies unit protecting that area.

Indeed, this was one of those scoreless draws that left both protagonist with regrets. Andre Wright squandered a glorious early chance to put the visitors ahead, and Keith Ward claimed that a second-half shot had crossed the line. Long’s youthful group put together some impressive attacking passages, although they were also deprived of the services of Dawson Devoy.

Dundalk probably did exert more pressure across the second half, with the loss of Daniel Kelly and Nathan Oduwa to injuries a concern for Filippo Giovagnoli, with Europa League influenced fixture congestion in mind. His side are in action in Derry on Monday before their opener at home to Molde on Thursday and he may have to employ some more of his main men in the Brandywell as a consequence.

Michael Duffy wasted their best chance to take the points, drilling a left-footer narrowly wide after clever play from Hoban manipulated the situation. The Lilywhites have kept three clean sheets on the trot, but they haven’t scored in their last three home matches.

They still have work to do to seal a European spot for next term whereas Bohs have claimed theirs. Long’s side were affected by Covid disruption and there’s a question mark over where the league goes from here with three Shamrock Rovers matches off due to their outbreak.

These sides are supposed to meet in the FAI Cup next month. Hopefully that proposed meeting comes to pass.