DUNDALK's Airtricity League Premier Division title bid took another hammer blow as they settled for a scoreless draw with lowly Galway United at Oriel Park.
Neither side came anywhere close to hitting a stride in a drab affair. The Lilywhites never really got going in a first half just slightly less forgettable than the next, although they did create more chances.
Three minutes past the half hour their most incisive move saw JJ Melligan shoot straight at the legs of Barry Ryan after Neale Fenn had shown an uncharacteristic burst of pace before teeing it up for the former Leyton Orient man.
Fuhrudin Kuduzovic and Fenn also came close with headers but the best chance of the half went to the visitors when the ball fell kindly for Anto Flood in the box, but he skied over with the help of a deflection.
While his strike partner Karl Sheppard has been winning all the acclaim recently, having been awarded the Airtricity/ SWAI player of the month, it was Flood causing all the problems for the hosts' sometimes uneasy-looking back four.
Dundalk manager Ian Foster summoned fans' favourite Michael McGowan, returning for the first time since last season after a spell training with Rangers and a registration mix-up, and the Northern Irishman replaced the ineffective Alan Cawley.
McGowan looked nervy on the ball but his right foot packs a fair punch and he had a shot whistle just over the bar on 74 minutes.