Kenny rings the changes for Glentoran challenge
TIARNAN Mulvenna was the only regular first-team player on show as manager Stephen Kenny gave trialists an opportunity to shine against Glentoran at Oriel on Sunday afternoon.
Former Lilywhites Simon Kelly and Nathan Murphy featured for the home side, along with Aaron Shanahan who was given a rare opportunity in goal, while Sami Osobe formed a new-look strike partnership with Mulvenna.
There was a quiet opening to this friendly - held as part of Glentoran's preparations for a European match - but Dundalk probed early on and threatened through Mulvenna (pictured below) who shot wide. The Muirhevnamor native then gave the hosts the lead as he picked up the ball just outside the box and fired past Glentoran goalkeeper Elliot Morris.
The goal appeared to settle the Lilywhites and they pushed for a second, with John McKeown shooting just wide of the post.
The Belfast visitors began to get a foothold in the game and started to press. Shanahan was called into action for the first time as he saved well from Jordan Hughes just inside the box, and when presented with another chance moments later the same player saw his shot well blocked.
Ten minutes before half-time the Belfast natives grabbed a deserved equaliser when a corner from Mark Clarke was nodded into the net by midfielder Jay Magee. Clarke caused more problems with
another corner, but Shanahan dealt with the danger despite pressure from the Glens.
The Lilywhites, playing in their away strip, came so close to going in front once more when McKeown crashed the ball against the crossbar on the stroke of half-time.
On the restart the balance of play was similar to the early play, with both sides trying to get their game going and Dundalk shading it.
Hughes shot wide of Shanahan's post before Dundalk took the lead for the second time.
A pinpoint ball from McKeown found the impressive Ciaran O'Connor on the right-hand side and he took one touch and brilliantly shot to the net, giving the Glentoran goalkeeper no chance.
At this stage Dundalk looked to be cruising, but the visitors came back at them once again, forcing a few openings through free-kicks, and a shot from Andy Smyth went just wide of the target.
The Irish League side then equalised for the second time with an identical goal to their first.
Hughes crossed once again for the former Dundalk trialist David Howland to head past Shanahan with just 15 minutes remaining on the watch.
The Louth side almost took the lead again when Steven Gordon attempted a lobbed back-pass to goalkeeper Aaron Hogg and he mis-controlled, handing a chance to Kevin Nolan who missed the target from just 12 yards.
It was Glentoran who always looked the more likely to get the winner in the latter stages, though. Hughes had an effort saved from point-blank range by Shanahan when he spread himself well to block the shot from six yards, and Smyth headed over from four yards when unmarked, following a good cross from Hughes.
DUNDALK: Aaron Shanahan; Mark Logan, Simon Kelly, Rob Maloney, Nathan Murphy; John McKeown, Kevin Nolan, Ciaran O'Connor, Paul Finnegan; Sami Osobe, Tiarnan Mulvenna. Subs not used: Manual Kaguako, Conor McDonald.
GLENTORAN: Eliiot Morris; Steven Gordon, Jason Hill, Jay Magee, William Garrett; Mark Clarke, David Howland, Richard Clarke, Marcus Kane; Andy Smyth, Jordan Hughes. Subs: Stephen McAllorum, Niall Henderson, Zen Eibig, Aaron Higg.