Wexford Youths claimed their second shock win in as many weeks as they beat hosts Shelbourne 2-1 in Tolka Park on Friday evening.
Shelbourne were in control for most of the match, and came to rue their failure to put away the chances they had. A controversial penalty, converted by David Breen, and a wondrous goal by Shane Dempsey cancelled out Sean Byrne’s earlier goal for Shels.
Both sides came into the match on the back of wins last week, and sought to carry their momentum forward. Shels had a brighter start, with David Cassidy having a half chance after 6 minutes.
One minute later, Anthony Wolfe headed the ball off his own crossbar after an attempt to clear a crossed ball from danger went wrong. After they went so close to scoring, Shels went on the hunt for the opener. Wexford managed to hold out, and had their own glorious chance after 19 minutes.
After a defensive mistake by Gareth Whelan, Gary Sheahan was left alone on goal to face Dean Delaney. The striker somehow shot well wide of the far post, wasting Wexford’s best chance of the first half. Wexford did have the chance to dominate the match, but their attempts at converting the possession they had into goals all floundered.
The opening goal eventually came after 38 minutes. A Sean Byrne free-kick was floated into the Youths penalty area and the unlucky Shane Dempsey put the ball past his own ‘keeper. Shels were happy with the 1-0 lead going in to half-time, but in truth the margin should have been far greater by that stage in the match.
The visitors came out from the half-time break with renewed vigour and pegged Shels back with a goal in the 50th minute. As a Wexford cross was drafted in, Shels keeper Dean Delaney, defender Sean Byrne and Youths striker Gary Sheahan all jumped to claim the ball. The ball was handled and the referee awarded a penalty to Wexford which was dutifully dispatched by David Breen. There was some controversy over the decision to award the penalty, as many observers from both sides saw it as a Wexford player who handled the ball.
Wexford then went into a defensive mode. Shelbourne proved toothless despite all of their good build-up play. In the 76th minute, Wexford caught Shels on the counter-attack and made them pay for going in search of a winner.
After a Shels attack, a long ball found Gary Sheahan. Sheahan had only Mick Clarke to face before Dean Delaney in the Shels goal, and the defender hauled him down around forty yards out. This left the referee no choice but to send Clarke off. The resulting free-kick was struck low and with force by Danny Furlong, beating Dean Delaney who couldn’t stretch to reach it.
Ten-man Shels did try to get a late equaliser, but even the second penalty of the match wasn’t dispatched by the home side. On 80 minutes, a Youths handball gifted Sean Byrne a chance to get Shels a point. Packie Holden saved well to his left to secure a well-earned win for Wexford Youths.
Shelbourne: Dean Delaney, Mick Clarke, Sean Byrne, Ian Ryan, Gareth Whelan, Colin O’Brien, David McGill, David Cassidy, Philip Gorman, Mark Leech (Dinny Corcoran ’59), Mark Hughes
Subs Not Used: Steve Williams, Robbie Clarke, Darren Forsyth, Marnan Azimi.
Wexford Youths: Packie Holden, Chris Kenny, Dean Broaders, David Breen, Anthony Wolfe, Shane Dempsey, Kevin Rowe (Shane Sinnott ’86), Patsy Malone, Danny Furlong, Gary Sheahan, John Byrne (Michael Mullan HT) .
Subs Not Used: Aidan McCann, Martin Kehoe, Garrett McCurtin
Extratime Man of the Match: David Breen
Referee: Neil Doyle
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.