A WINNING start is exactly what Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny would have wanted from this potential banana skin against last year's First Division winners, Longford Town, and the champions delivered - just.
Any champagne football on display was of the flat rather than bubbling variety as Dundalk struggled to kill off a stubborn Longford side. In the end, it took a combination of Gary Rogers and the woodwork to deny Tony Cousins' side a share of the spoils.
Few would have guessed at such a tight outcome when the hosts opened their account for the new season after 16 minutes. John Mountney's clever pass set Ronan Finn away on the right and his low ball across the penalty area was hammered home by the Dundalk winger. It was the highlight of an otherwise forgettable first-half.
The second-half proved to be a more lively affair. Dundalk pushed for a second goal and David McMillan and Richie Towell were both denied by excellent Paul Skinner saves while Andy Boyle powered a deflected effort against the crossbar.
Longford played on Dundalk's nerves late on and Rogers stood tall to deny David O'Sullivan in the dying stages.
That looked to be the midlanders' last chance of the night but the new Dundalk goalkeeper had to push Gary Shaw's last gasp effort onto the bar to secure the win for his side.
DUNDALK - Rogers; Gannon, Gartland, Boyle, Massey; Shields, Towell; Mountney, Finn (Barrett 89), Horgan; McMillan (Byrne 77).
LONGFORD TOWN - Hunt (Skinner 29); Sullivan, Flynn, Tyrell, Powell, Shannon (O'Sullivan 61), Rice, Salmon, O'Connor, Deady (Ben Mohamed 74); Shaw.
REF - N Doyle (Dublin).