On the eve of his 32nd birthday, and on the night of his 220th league appearance for the club, Andy Boyle popped up with a rare goal as Dundalk produced a rousing second-half comeback to overturn a one-goal deficit and beat Shelbourne at Oriel Park.
The visitors went in front when John Ross Wilson pounced on a defensive error to round Nathan Shepperd and roll the ball home after just 15 minutes.
Dundalk burst from the traps in the second half with Rayhaan Tulloch grabbing his second goal in as many games before Boyle rose highest to head home a Connor Malley corner with 69 minutes on the clock as Stephen O’Donnell’s men backed up their 5-0 win over St Patrick’s Athletic in impressive fashion.
O’Donnell made five changes to the side that beat Pat’s with Archie Davies, Wasiri Willimas, Keith Ward, John Martin and Cameron Elliott coming in for Hayden Muller, Louie Annesley, Johannes Yli-Kokko, Daniel Kelly and Patrick Hoban. Robbie Benson, Alfie Lewis and Robbie McCourt were named among the substitutes.
The Lilywhites started brightly with Davies showing his willingness to get forward and his cutback set up John Martin for a 12th-minute chance that was blocked by the outstretched leg of former Dundalk centre-back Andrew Quinn.
Despite that, it was Damien Duff’s men who drew first blood three minutes later. Wilson chased a raking pass from Cameron Ledwidge and when Darragh Leahy was deceived by the bounce, the full-back showed great composure to skip around Shepperd and tuck the ball away.
Dundalk, and Tulloch in particular, came to life as the game approached the half hour and he tried to place an effort past Conor Kearns before the interval only to see his effort gathered safely by the big goalkeeper.
HT: Dundalk FC 0-1 Shelbourne
The on-loan winger was not to be denied and he stooped to head the equaliser just three minutes after the break following a flowing move from back to front involving Davies, Sloggett, Elliott and Leahy, the latter providing the cross.
Dundalk’s new number 77 almost made it 2-1 shortly after when he received a good pass from Keith Ward but after breaking clear of two red shirts, he was denied again by the Shels goalkeeper.
The game started to open up and Shepperd got down well to push a powerful Jack Moylan drive to safety, but O’Donnell’s men continued to build a head of steam and substitute Patrick Hoban saw an overhead kick deflect off Greg Sloggett and fly goalwards but Kearns did well to top the ball over the top.
The winner arrived from the subsequent corner. Connor Malley dropped the ball into a crowded six-yard box and Boyle leapt highest to glance the ball home and claim his first goal for the club since August 2021.
The hosts dropped deep in the final stages and Shels thought they had restored parity with 92 minutes played when Kyle Robinson angled a drive past Shepperd only to see it ruled out for an offside flag.
That decision didn’t go down well with the Shelbourne dugout and referee Damien MacGraith’s final whistle, after six minutes of additional time, was followed by some unsavoury scenes but, when the dust had settled, it was Dundalk who were celebrating a hard-earned and thoroughly deserved three points.
FT: Dundalk FC 2-1 Shelbourne
DUNDALK FC: Nathan Shepperd; Archie Davies, Wasiri Williams, Andy Boyle; Darragh Leahy; Greg Sloggett, Keith Ward (Ryan O’Kane 60), Connor Malley (Alfie Lewis 79); John Martin (Patrick Hoban 60), Cameron Elliott, Rayhann Tulloch (Hayden Muller 86). Subs not used: Robbie Benson, Robbie McCourt, Anthony Moyo, Peter Cherrie (GK), Mark Byrne (GK).
SHELBOURNE: Conor Kearns, John Ross Wilson, Andrew Quinn, Paddy Barrett, Cameron Ledwidge, Tyreke Wilson; Gavin Molloy, Jack Moylan (Kyle Robinson 73), Evan Caffrey (Shane Farrell 73), JJ Lunney (Brian McManus 60); Kian Leavy (Matty Smith 64). Subs not used: Luke Byrne, Daithi Folan (GK), Scott Van Der Sluis (GK).
REFEREE: Damien MacGraith.