Two goals from David Cassidy earned full points for Shelbourne against the league’s form side, Monaghan United, at Tolka Park on Friday night and gave new boss Alan Mathews his first home win at his new club.
The defining moment of this game occurred as early as the third minute when Monaghan United’s Sean Brennan ploughed into Sean Byrne underneath a high ball and received a straight red from referee, Rob Rogers.
It was an incident that left Byrne prostrate on the pitch for four minutes and the full back was ultimately stretchered off and replaced by Michael Coburn. Having intervened in the melee that followed the challenge, Rogers managed to regain control but the tone was set.
A series of poorly timed tackles followed and by half time four more players had yellow cards and Shane Grimes, in particular, was a lucky man to stay on the field when he took out Philip Gorman on Shels’ right flank having already collected a caution for a badly timed tackle on Dinny Corcoran.
However there was nothing lucky about Shelbourne’s 2-0 half time lead. The first goal came in the tenth minute when a David McGill ball through the inside right channel found David Cassidy. The entire Monaghan back line stopped to look for an off-side flag that never came and Cassidy looped the ball over Gabriel Sava and into the Monaghan net.
The next goal was also scored by the Shels number eight as he raced through the visitors defence to meet a long ball from Michael Coburn. He hit it before it touched down and flew exquisitely over Sava and into the same corner that had received his first strike.
Monaghan, ironically had two chances in the two minutes that preceded Brennan’s red card. In the very first minute Philip Hughes ran behind Gareth Whelan and skelped a shot across Dean Delaney and wide of the Shelbourne goal. One minute later and Brennan raced through only to be pipped to the ball by Delaney.
The second half started with the home side on the attack but it was Monaghan who created the first chance of the half when Hughes left a McMahon cross for Cathal O’Connor, but the midfielder’s weak shot was easily saved.
Corcoran and Cassidy (with a shot from the right hand touchline) almost added to Shels two goals and, at the other end, Stephen McCrossan cracked a shot just past Delaney’s left hand post. Gabriel Sava then collected a Philip Gorman header that lacked the pace required to trouble the Italian ‘keeper as Shelbourne started to dominate.
In the 69th minute Cassidy wriggled along the Monaghan byline and chipped a delicate cross back towards Gorman. The Striker’s header was again on target but this time it was the crown of Brian Gartland that got in the way.
But for all of their forward play the Reds failed to carve out enough genuine chances and with twelve minutes left on the clock young sub Darragh Hanaphy burst onto a ball played through from the visitors’ midfield and poked a shot past the onrushing figure of Delaney. The ball trickled over the line and, against all the odds, the Mons were back in it.
As the timed ebbed away Cassidy was forced off with a pulled hamstring and, with all three substitutes already on the pitch, both teams spent the final minutes with ten men. Shels continued to press but Monaghan pumped the ball forwards at every opportunity and the home support never quite felt safe until Rob Rogers finally blew the whistle and an exciting if ill-tempered match came to an end.
Monaghan’s defeat will be softened by the fact that Derry too lost (at home to Cork City) but Shelbourne must be commended for a victory will go down as hard earned rather than inspired.
Shelbourne: Dean Delaney; Ray Scully, Ian Ryan, Gareth Whelan, Sean Byrne (Michael Coburn, 3); David Cassidy, Paul Shiels, David McGill, Marc Hughes (Colin O’Brien, 66); Philip Gorman, Dinny Corcoran (Mark Leech, 74).
?Subs not used: Steve Williams, Brian Farrell.
Bookings: Cassidy (27), Hughes (45+4), Gorman (61).
Monaghan United: Gabriel Sava, Conor McMahon (Karl Bermingham, 66), Alan Byrne, Brian Gartland, Conor Grimes; Barry Clancy, Don Tierney, Stephen McCrossan, Cathal O’Connor (Aidan Collins, 66); Sean Brennan, Philip Hughes (Darragh Hanaphy, 76).
?Subs not used: Anthony Costigan, Paul Whelan.
Bookings: McMahon (16), Grimes (23), McCrossan (83).
Sendings Off: Sean Brennan (3).
extratime.ie Man of the Match:David Cassidy.
Simon O'Gorman began reporting for Extratime in 2010. He remembers Milltown and Flower Lodge and, back in the mists of time, saw Diego Maradona play at Lansdowne Road. He now lives in Co Kildare and reports on Shamrock Rovers among others. Simon can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org