Dundalk's Eoghan Osborne slides in on Man of the Match Sean Maguire. ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

As it happened: Dundalk v Waterford United, Airtricity League play-off

There was no shortage of drama in Oriel Park tonight. Catch up with all of the action from the first leg in our minute-by-minute report.

This week is win or bust for Dundalk and Waterford United, and we went minute-by-minute on the first leg of the Airtricity League play-off in Oriel Park.

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Dundalk 2-2 Waterford United

Good evening and welcome to our live minute-by-minute coverage of tonight’s Airtricity League play-off first leg. Premier League status is on the line for Dundalk and Waterford United in Oriel Park — who will strike first blood in tonight’s first leg?

Kick-off is at 7.45pm.

Here are the teams. No Gary Shanahan for Dundalk. He’s ruled out with injury but John Mountney returns in midfield following an appendix operation.

For the Blues, top goalscorer and PFAI Young Player of the Year nominee Seanie Maguire leads the line.

Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; Mark O’Brien, Chris Shields (c), Liam Burns, Eoghan Osborne; Chris Reilly, Stephen Maher, John Mountney, Lorcan Shannon; Marc Griffin, Michael Rafter. Substitutes: Nathan Murphy, Paul Whelan, Stephen McDonnell, Conor McDonald, Robbie Gaul, Barry Conlon, William Woods.

Waterford: Packie Holden; David Breene (c), Craig Burns, Paul Carey, Dylan Mernagh; Peter Higgins, Gary Dempsey, Peter White, Paul Phelan; Peter Keegan, Seanie Maguire. Substitutes: Ben Ryan, Aidan McGrath, Darragh Walsh, Jack Doherty, Jamie Cross, Conor Coad, Robbie Hughes.

We’ve had a minute’s silence at Oriel Park and we’re just about ready to go. Referee is Paul McLaughlin.

KICK OFF: Dundalk get us underway.

First glimpse of Seanie Maguire as he picks up the ball and runs at the Dundalk defence. He’s clipped by Stephen Maher but Gary Dempsey’s free is headed clear by Dundalk.

First chance of the game falls to Waterford and skipper David Breene will feel that he should have done better. Great work by Paul Phelan to cut back in from the left wing and float a cross to the back post. Cherrie hesitated and had Breene gambled properly, he would have been on hand to tap in for the game’s opening goal. Great early chance for the visitors.

A worrying sight for Dundalk as Liam Burns goes down. The veteran defender picked up a knock in a collision with Seanie Maguire early on and though he tried to shake it off, he seems to be in a bit of trouble now.

Substitution: That’s the end of Burns’ night alright. He’s replaced by Paul Whelan — but how will Dundalk cope without his experience at the back?

Waterford have settled the better in these opening 15 minutes but they’re very nearly caught out as a bouncing ball causes all sorts of panic 20 yards from their goal. Craig Burns gets all in a muddle underneath and fails to deal with it, but Marc Griffin can’t pick out Michael Rafter to send him through for a shot on goal.

Gary Dempsey again tests the Dundalk defence by firing in another tempting delivery but referee Paul McLaughlin spots an infringement and whistles for a free out.

Packie Holden can count himself very lucky there. Under pressure from Chris Reilly, the Waterford keeper comes and flaps at a dropping ball but the referee gives a soft free out there. There’s no foul at all there, much to Dundalk’s frustration.

Good training ground routine by Dundalk as Rafter peels away at the front post from a corner, taking two or three Waterford defenders out of the equation. Shannon’s delivery is attacked by Chris Shields but his header is a couple of yards wide of Holden’s right post.

GOAL! Dundalk 1-0 Waterford United (Shannon, 22′) Brilliant counter by Waterford and it’s rewarded with the game’s opening goal. Chris Reilly hares free down the left wing and with the Waterford defence on the back foot, pulls the ball across into the middle of the penalty area. Lorcan Shannon beats Paul Phelan to it and finishes past Holden from 10 yards out. The hosts lead.

A chance for Phelan and Waterford to hit back immediately as the Dundalk defence opens up. There’s pressure from Chris Shields who slides in, and Phelan’s shot is straight at Cherrie who manages to palm it up and over the bar.

Seanie Maguire turns Paul Whelan one way and then the other to make space for a shot. Cherrie gets his body behind the ball and holds but it’s another encouraging effort by Waterford’s teenage star.

White tries his luck from distance and though Cherrie can’t hold on to it, it’s a white jersey rather than blue on hand to deal with the loose ball.

RED CARD! (Stephen Maher, 33′) A moment of madness by Stephen Maher and Dundalk are down to 10 men. There’s a bit of a tussle between himself and Peter Higgins as the ball goes out for a throw out on the left and Maher kicks out. Dundalk fans might feel it’s a bit harsh but Maher should never have given the referee a decision to make.

Peter Higgins is causing more trouble for Dundalk and he’s clipped and brought down by Marc Griffin on the edge of the box. Griffin is booked and, after the dust settles, Dempsey puts in another teasing cross. David Breene is the man who comes to meet it at the near post but he can’t get his header on target.

Maguire tries his luck again from 20 yards out but Cherrie takes the sting out of the shot before collecting at the second attempt.

Five minutes to go until the break and Waterford are making their man advantage count and creating all of the chances. Maguire breaks and spreads the ball wide to Phelan. After a moment’s indecision, he clips it back towards the back post where Maguire wins the header. There’s nobody in support though and Cherrie comes out to collect.

We’re into injury time at the end of the first half.

HALF TIME: Dundalk 1-0 Waterford United

Referee Paul McLaughlin whistles for half-time. A moment of concern just before the break for Waterford as Peter Keegan goes down with injury after taking a knock in the corner.

The visitors find themselves behind but they’ve certainly had plenty of opportunities, not least through Seanie Maguire who is proving to be a right handful for the Dundalk defence. With the Lilywhites down to 10 following Maher’s moment of madness, they should have chances to get themselves back into this in the second half.

Back in a few.

SECOND HALF: A change apiece as we get back underway in this second half. Peter Keegan appears to have injured knee ligaments at the end of the first half and so Darragh Walshe is on for Waterford.

For Dundalk, Stephen McDonnell is on for Chris Reilly.

McDonnell gets himself involved immediately — but not in the way that Dundalk would have hoped. He crashes through Peter Higgins and is booked for his troubles.

GOAL! Dundalk 1-1 Waterford United (Phelan, 50′) Waterford are right back in this as Paul Phelan scrambles the ball off the post and over the line. A quick throw in finds Seanie Maguire inside the box, he hooks the ball across goal to the back post and Phelan heads it down past Cherrie, off the post and in.

It’s no less than the visitors deserve, really, and it will be very interesting to see how 10-man Dundalk respond now.

The ball is nicked away from Rafter on the edge of the Waterford box and when the second shot comes in from Griffin, it’s easily saved by Holden.

Another break in play as Peter Higgins goes down but fortunately for Paul O’Brien and Waterford, it looks like he will be ok to continue.

Brilliant run by Stephen McDonnell down the right wing. He slips the ball through White’s legs inside to Griffin but again, his shot doesn’t really trouble Holden.

GOAL! Dundalk 1-2 Waterford United (Ryan, 60′) Ben Ryan is only on the pitch a matter of seconds, introduced as a sub for Peter Higgins, but those seconds are all he needs to put Waterford in front and leave Dundalk in big trouble.

Dylan Mernagh crosses from the left and Ryan times his run perfectly to head past Cherrie.

This comment in from Micheál Walsh, who I suspect may be a Waterford fan.

Get in touch via the comments, email or Twitter.

Seani McGuire- yet again different class! Absolutely head and shoulders above any player on pitch….Waterford dominating play even before the red card and what a joy to see Waterford revert back to our history of attacking football. Hopefully we can push on and make Friday a little less nervy. Come on you blues!

A brilliant chance for Waterford’s goal scorer Ben Ryan to make a 3-1 and give Waterford a cushion to take back to the RSC on Friday night, but he fluffs his lines. Phelan dinks (or possibly toes) a cross from the left which beats everybody in the Dundalk area, except for Ryan who has snuck in at the back post unnoticed. He misses his kick completely though and Dundalk breathe.

Twenty minutes to play here and Waterford are showing no signs of holding what they have. Gary Dempsey finds himself in an unusually advanced position but under a dropping ball, he can’t connect properly and Cherrie gathers.

Another half-chance for Waterford. Cherrie stays on his line rather than coming to deal with Dempsey’s corner. It drops between David Breene and Paul Whelan and it’s the Waterford man who wins the jump-off, beating Whelan, but he can’t direct the ball goalwards.

GOAL! Dundalk 2-2 Waterford United (McDonnell, 76′) It felt like it might take something special to bring Dundalk back on level terms and Stephen McDonnell has done just that. The ball falls to him 25 yards out and he drills a sweet strike low to Holden’s left and into the bottom corner. The keeper was possibly unsighted and will have words with his defence for allowing McDonnell the room to shoot, but take nothing away from the strike.

The 10 men are right back in this, and Friday night’s second leg is shaping up to be a cracker.

Brilliant save by Peter Cherrie and that could be crucial come Friday night. Again, it’s Phelan who plays a brilliant ball into the box. Gary Dempsey beats John Moutney to the cross and forces a brilliant reflex save from the Dundalk keeper who dives full length to palm it behind for a corner.

Dundalk are living dangerously now as they get tired and Paul O’Brien must be wondering how his Waterford side haven’t managed to get their noses back in front again. Paul Carey breaks forward from the defence and a neat one-two with Ben Ryan sets him free inside the box. He goes for power over placement though and fires a great chance over the bar without testing Cherrie.

Darragh Walsh gets the break of a bouncing ball off Chris Shields’ leg and space opens up for a shot from the edge of the Dundalk box. He snatches at it though and drags it well wide of the goal. Should have done a lot better.

Two minutes plus stoppage time to play here at Oriel. There’ll be three minutes of injury time and, if it stays like this, we’re set up for a cracker back in the RSC on Friday.

Seanie Maguire is allowed to cut back inside off the left wing and gives the home fans a heart-stopping moment as he whistles a shot past Cherrie’s post. That was close.

Seanie Maguire is named as Setanta Sports Man of the Match and it’s well deserved. He has been excellent tonight.

Another golden chance for Waterford. Carey’s attempted pass deflects off Eoghan Osborne and into Darragh Walsh’s path. He tries to go low across Cherrie but the keeper gets an outstretched toe on it to flick it away.

FULL TIME: Dundalk 2-2 Waterford United

Gary Dempsey has a chance to snatch a win for Waterford with the final kick of the game but his free comes back off the Dundalk wall and that’s all we’ve got time for.

That’s our lot from Oriel Park tonight — but what a night it was. A thoroughly entertaining game and we’re all set up nicely for a humdinger of a second leg in Waterford on Friday.

See you then.

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