A four-goal demolition saw Shelbourne get the three points against a sorry Mervue United side at Tolka Park on Friday night.
Goals from Dinny Corcoran, Eric Foley, Marc Hughes and Colin O’Brien gave the home side a precious win.
David Cassidy returned for the Reds after a lay off due to injury, but a suspension to Paul Shiels meant Ray Scully had to be drafted into the midfield.
Mervue United played the match with only four substitutes as no replacement goalkeeper could be found. Rory Gaffney threatened for the Westerners but they were restricted to long-range efforts.
Shelbourne had a relatively nervy start to the match, but Mervue could never manage to get the ball into the final third of the pitch. It wasn’t long before Shels began to dominate. On 10 minutes, a series of three corners saw Shels press hard for a goal.
On 20 minutes, Dinny Corcoran opened the scoring for Shelbourne. Colin O’Brien won the ball and passed to Stephen Quigley. Quigley crossed for Corcoran who finished emphatically.
David Cassidy, who passed a late fitness test, looked lively but hobbled off injured directly after the goal to be replaced by Marc Hughes.
From straight after the Corcoran goal, Shels went on the attack in an attempt to kill off the match. Marc Hughes missed a sitter on 26 minutes, the Bohs loanee shooting wide of an open goal after Mark Leech rounded Ger Hanley in goal for Mervue.
Mervue were on the back foot for the remainder of the half, but it was still 1-0 going into half-time.
Both teams seemed to emerge with a fresh vigour after the break. Eric Foley turned two defenders on 52 minutes but Ger Hanley was equal to his powerful shot.
Rory Gaffney was the sole bright spark for the visitors. Gaffney worked hard to get around the pitch, and on 61 minutes had Mervue’s best chance of the match.
Gaffney won the ball and surged down the wing, his cross looped in and was only cleared from danger by a timely Sean Byrne intervention.
Mervue’s brief period of dominance was short-lived, however. On 63 minutes, the match was effectively killed off as a contest. A Shelbourne cross looked set to be cleared from danger by Mervue defender Mike Tierney, only for Tierney to completely miss the ball and allow Eric Foley in behind him. Shelbourne’s top scorer this season capably dispatched the ball into the net to make it 2-0.
Marc Hughes worked hard and was again unlucky not to score on 70 minutes with a skilful half-volley from the edge of the box.
Hughes did get his first goal in Shels colours just 4 minutes later after much endeavour. A short corner eventually found the striker who tucked the ball past the helpless Ger Hanley.
Mervue’s Eric Browne got his marching orders on 71 minutes after receiving a second yellow card for a reckless challenge.
Shels scored again on 79 minutes, and the fourth goal was easily the most spectacular. Colin O’Brien shot from forty yards out, his low shot streaming past Hanley for the midfielder’s first of the season.
Marc Hughes had two more chances in stoppage time, as he slid in at the back post on 91 minutes but couldn’t reach the ball in front of a gaping net. A minute later he had a goal ruled offside after he was sought out at the far post again.
Shelbourne: Dean Delany, Stephen Quigley, Sean Byrne, David McGill,Gareth Whelan, Colin O’Brien, Ray Scully, David Cassidy (Marc Hughes ‘20), Dinny Corcoran, Mark Leech (Philip Gorman ‘59), Eric Foley (Mick Clarke ‘77)
Substitutes Not Used: Steve Williams, Robbie Clarke.
Mervue United: Ger Hanley, Tommy Walsh, Martin Conneely, Mike Tierney (Barry McEntee ‘80), Kevin Crehan, Eric Browne, Ollie Keogh (Enda Curran ’65), Rory Gaffney, Pat Hoban, Evan Connolly (Dan Cunningham ‘69), Kenny Farrell.
Substitutes Not Used: Alex Lee.
Referee: Sean Grant.
Extratime Man of the Match: Colin O’Brien.
Niall Farrell is our correspondent at Tolka Park, covering the goings-on at Shelbourne. You can visit Niall's website for further information and contact details- niallf.net.