Jamie Gullan’s power-packed free kick earned new-look Dundalk a point on a night of what might have been, as they opened their SSE Airtricity League Premier Division campaign with a 1-1 draw against Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium.

Gullan silenced the majority of the 7,610 in attendance when he stood up and unleashed an unstoppable shot past Leon Pohls in the 33rd minute, the visiting supporters erupting to hail their new No9.

Dundalk could not have gone closer to doubling their lead before the hour mark when, after a flowing move, Ryan O’Kane headed Daryl Horgan’s cross off the woodwork.

That was the turning point as, almost immediately, Rovers equalised when substitute Aaron Greene knocked in Conan Noonan’s set piece.

Rovers piled on the pressure after that but, with captain Andy Boyle showing all his leadership qualities, Dundalk produced a spirited defensive performance to grind out a fully-deserved draw.

Manager Stephen O’Donnell handed league debuts to George Shelvey, Jamie Walker, Zak Bradshaw, Scott High and Gullan.

His side started confidently and they had the first sight of goal on the quarter-hour. Mayowa Animasahun’s perfect pass picked out Horgan who drove forward from midfield and struck a shot into the midriff of Pohls.

Dundalk survived a scare soon after when Rory Gaffrey broke in on the right of the box and crossed dangerously, but Bradshaw intervened. The impressive young Englishman was then harshly booked for a clean tackle on Neil Farrugia as he headed for goal, the Rovers winger suffering a dislocated shoulder in his fall.

Jamie Gullan shoots to score a free kick during the SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division match between Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk at Tallaght Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Following a lengthy delay, it was Hammer time as Dundalk hit the front in spectacular fashion. Horgan was fouled 25 yards out, presenting Gullan with an opportunity to display his set-piece prowess and the Scot powered past Pohls despite the ‘keeper getting a hand to it.

In the seventh of nine added minutes, after O’Kane was fouled close to the 18-yard line, Gullan was almost at it again, but this time his goal-bound free kick was diverted behind off the head of Markus Poom, who would exit at the break for Greene.

Rovers came out on the front foot and went close in the 50th minute when defender Josh Honohan flashed a header just wide after connecting with Noonan’s free kick from near the by-line.

Seán Kavanagh then supplied a terrific delivery for Darragh Burns who, with only a stranded Shelvey to beat, really should have done better with his header.

On 57 minutes, Dundalk put together a delightful passing move with Bradshaw finding Gullan who combined with Horgan, his right-wing cross falling onto the head of O’Kane who saw his effort agonisingly come back off the post.

And then, Rovers were level. Noonan again showed his quality from a dead ball, and the in-rushing Greene had a simple task to finish from close range.

Rovers smelt blood and, from thereon, put Dundalk under serious pressure, at times camped inside the Lilywhites half as they desperately searched for a winner.

However, with Boyle a rock in defence and fresh legs introduced from the bench, the Louth men – who did threaten on the break – held on for a point on an evening full of positives.

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Leon Pohls, Daniel Cleary, Seán Hoare, Josh Honohan, Neil Farrugia (Trevor Clarke 30, Darragh Nugent 45+8), Gary O’Neill, Markus Poom (Aaron Greene HT), Seán Kavanagh, Darragh Burns, Conan Noonan (Dylan Watts 61), Rory Gaffney. Subs not used: Lee Steacy (GK), Lee Grace, Cian Barrett, John O’Sullivan, Cian Dillon.

DUNDALK FC: George Shelvey, Archie Davies, Mayowa Animasahun, Andy Boyle, Jamie Walker, Scott High, Zak Bradshaw (Paul Doyle 69), Daryl Horgan (Sam Durrant 78), Robbie Benson (Robbie Mahon 83), Ryan O’Kane (Hayden Muller 83), Jamie Gullan (Cami Elliott 69). Subs not used: Ross Munro (GK), Louie Annesley, Zak Johnson, Ciaran McGuckin.

REFEREE: Robert Hennessy.