Dundalk...1 Molde...2 Regrets for Dundalk coming away with nothing after leading at the break against Molde
The fairytale for Filippo Giovagnoli couldn't extend to the full 90 minutes.
In a surreal occasion on the day that Ireland adjusted to new restrictions, Molde found another level to secure victory from this Europa League encounter.
There will be regrets for Dundalk in the sense that they came away with nothing after leading at the break.
And they will feel they could have defended better for the two breaks that gave Molde the spoils.
The Eliteserien side only got two shots on target. However, they had owned the ball throughout the spell where they created the decisive opportunities.
It was agonising for Giovagnoli, the unlikely leader of a team at this level, who was unable to stand in the technical area because he doesn't have a UEFA Pro Licence.
Shane Keegan was out front, while the 49-year-old manager opted to base himself on the steps behind the bench so he could avoid spending the game seated.
He was confident on the eve of the game, turning to a combination of form and experience in selecting his starting side.
John Mountney, one of five starters who was in team for Stephen Kenny's opener in Alkmaar four years ago, was restored on the right side of midfield ahead of Serbian Stefan Colovic. But Patrick McEleney, a member of that group, lost out to Sean Murray in the attacking midfield role.
Giovagnoli looked for Murray and Greg Sloggett to break forward from central areas in support of lone striker Patrick Hoban, yet they also had to be disciplined off the ball with Dundalk compact when Molde were in possession. In truth, the hosts settled into the game quite well with the guests frustrated in general play.
Their main attacking avenue was switching a diagonal ball left in an attempt to trouble the right side of the Dundalk defence. But with Brian Gartland barking instructions and Sean Gannon composed, the white shirts managed proceedings quite effectively.
Molde won a number of corners and their delivery was dangerous, with Gary Rogers crowded, yet the Lilywhites always managed to fend off the threat and restrict blue shirts to speculative efforts from the edge of the area.
Dundalk had to pick and choose their breaks, and homework that indicated defensive weakness in the Molde ranks proved accurate, especially in terms of the opportunities they gave sides in wide areas.
Patrick Hoban controversially had a goal chalked off in the aftermath of a Michael Duffy cross that caused a bit of disruption, but Molde remained sluggish in this department.
Dundalk capitalised with a team move off the back of a period of patient play which was accelerated by a quick one two between Gannon and Mountney with the latter's pinpoint delivery finding the unmarked Murray who nodded the ball beyond Andreas Linde. Murray's equaliser away to Sheriff in the penultimate qualifying round was the first header of his career; he's now bagged three in a row from that route in Europe.
Molde could have few complaints about the half-time picture. Yet they sought to address it with a purposeful response and they were in full control from the restart. Their captain and playmaker Magnus Wolkff Eikrem, a one-time Manchester United player, was central to their gameplan.
He got very deep to get involved, but was central to their domination and Dundalk were pegged back from the early stages, struggling to get out of trouble. Mistakes can be found in every concession, yet it was sheer weight of pressure that ultimately wore the Irish resistance down.
A purposeful passage resulted in a a clipped cross from right full Marcus Holmgren Pedersen which found Etzaz Hussain with the midfielder's volley finding a way past Rogers with the help of a deflection off Gannon. It was just after the hour mark. Perhaps if Dundalk had held on for another ten minutes panic might have set in. Instead, Molde had the momentum.
Their lead goal came from a penalty with sub Erling Knudtzon embarking into the area and getting the wrong side of Gannon with the defender's clumsy challenge drawing the foul with the Finnish official showing no hesitation. Striker Ohi Omoijuanfo calmly converted.
Giovagnoli rolled the dice in search of a leveller, switching to a back three as part of a treble substitution which saw both full backs replaced and Dave McMillan summoned as a second striker.
Molde temporarily needed time to take their bearings, yet they had the quality to regroup and see this out, although Dundalk did regroup to apply pressure in the six minutes of added time. Alas, they ended the game pointless, with stiffer challenges lying ahead.