Dundalk began their 2023 SSE Airtricity League Premier Division campaign on Friday night with a 1-1 draw against UCD at Oriel Park.

John Martin gave Stephen O’Donnell’s men the lead just before half-time however Ciaran Behan’s late free-kick rescued a point for the Students in front of 3,142 spectators on the Carrick Road.

Dundalk began the brighter of the 2 sides but didn’t have a shot on target until the 12th minute when John Martin fired straight at goalkeeper Lorcan Healy.

Ciaran Behan then tested Nathan Shepperd from distance but his effort was easily gathered by the goalkeeper.

The Lilywhites had the perfect opportunity to take the lead in the 20th minute.

Ciaran Behan brought down Martin in the area after a clever through ball from Patrick Hoban at a free-kick.

Hoban stepped up to take it however his kick was excellently saved by Healy down to his left.

John Martin celebrates with Ryan O’Kane.. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile

Donal Higgins almost made the home side rue that miss when he danced free 25 yards from goal however his effort was brilliantly tipped around the post by Shepperd.

Dundalk would take deserved lead 10 minutes before half-time when Louie Annesley’s cross was touched by Hoban into the path of Martin who made no mistake at the back post to power to the net.

Ryan O’Kane was next and almost made it 2-0 just before the break when he wriggled free in the box but his effort was inches wide, from an acute angle.

Half-time: Dundalk FC 1-0 UCD

The second half was more scrappy with neither team really carving an opening early on.

Connor Malley had an effort go wide as he tried to catch Healy off his line as Greg Sloggett did the same but he fired over.

UCD would equalise with just over 10 minutes remaining on the watch.

Patrick Hoban gets away from Brendan Barr. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile

A foul on the edge of the box by Hayden Muller was punished fully as Behan fired over the wall brilliantly into the top corner and out of the reach of Shepperd.

That did spark Dundalk into life as Keith Ward, introduced for goalscorer Martin, had a vicious drive deflected wide.

From the corner, Andy Boyle headed inches over with the goalkeeper to beat.

There would be no further action of note as the referee blew the full-time whistle as the match ended in stalemate.

Full-time: Dundalk FC 1-1 UCD

DUNDALK FC: Nathan Shepperd; Archie Davies, Hayden Muller, Andy Boyle, Louie Annesley; Alfie Lewis (Paul Doyle 79), Greg Sloggett; John Martin, Connor Malley (Cameron Elliott 79), Ryan O’Kane (Daniel Kelly 84); Patrick Hoban. Subs not used: Peter Cherrie (GK), Anthony Mayo, Mark Byrne, Oisin Coleman.

UCD: Lorcan Healy; Michael Gallagher, Adam Wells (Ryan Bowden 60), Jack Keaney, Jesse Dempsey; Brendan Barr, Dara Keane; Ciaran Behan, Donal Higgins, Daniel Norris (Mark Dignam 72); Alex Nolan. Subs not used: Sam Healy (GK), Daniel Babb, Harry O’Connor, Ryan McBrearty, Samuel Clarke, Danu Kinsella Bishop, Jake Doyle.

REFEREE: Arnold Hunter