Finn Harps       1    Dundalk    1

Champions Dundalk were held to a second successive draw as they had to come from behind to take a point off newly promoted Finn Harps in an absorbing contest at Finn Park.

Harps boss Ollie Horgan revealed prior to the game that his team had been working during the week to disrupt Dundalk.

And he can be well pleased as  Harps were the better side for part of the game.

He made three changes with Sean Boyd, who has joined on loan from Shamrock Rovers until July, making his debut while Mark Coyle and Keith Cowan also started in a 3-5-2 formation.

And Harps had the first chance with Daniel O’Reilly just wide as he connected with a Raff Cretaro corner.

Dundalk, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Sligo Rovers in their opener, made two changes with Sean Murray and Dean Jarvis in for the injured Robbie Benson and Patrick McEleney.

They soon settled and Peter Burke, preferred in goals to last season’s regular netminder Ciaran Gallagher, made a fine save to tip a cracking Michael Duffy shot around the post.

Dundalk almost took the lead on 21 minutes when Sean Murray found Patrick Hoban inside the box and his spectacular effort just whizzed outside the upright.

On 32 minutes Hoban was crunched down by Keith Cowan and from the resulting free, Dean Massey’s measured shot smacked off the crossbar.

Dundalk almost took the lead on 21 minutes when Sean Murray found Patrick Hoban inside the box and his spectacular effort just whizzed outside the upright.

But Harps took the lead on 41 minutes when defender Keith Cowan rose about the visiting defence to head home a Raffaele Cretaro.

Finn Park was buzzing and Harps almost grabbed a second moments later when Boyle snaked his way into the box and tried to pick out the advancing Boyd, but Chris Shields made a vital interception.

Harps began the second half positively and Gary Rogers spilled a Cretaro shot and Sean Boyd was then denied by the advancing Dundalk netminder.

But Dundalk equalised on 70 minutes when captain Brian Gartland met a Michael Duffy corner with a thundering header from close range.

In an exciting conclusion both sides had chances.

Tempers boiled over at the final whistle with stewards and match officials having to separate players and management on both sides.

Dundalk will have to improve on this display.

Harps were well worth a share of he spoils.

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