SHELBOURNE advanced their claims for promotion tonight with a 3-0 win over strugglers Mervue United. Goals from Marc Hughes, Mark Leech and Ian Ryan gave Shels an emphatic win.
Two early half-chances for Shels from Sean Byrne crosses were repelled, but the Reds had the majority of possession in the opening minutes- setting the precedent for the rest of the match.
Mark Leech squandered the best chance of the match thus far after 17 minutes, after Ger Hanley miskicked and gave him the ball. Leech beat the Mervue 'keeper but shot well over when he could have passed to the waiting Hughes or Cassidy.
Play was largely Shelbourne's for most of the match, but they failed to capitalise on their dominance until just over ten minutes before half-time.
David McGill's shot was parried away by Hanley and went out for a corner. From the corner Marc Hughes stabbed the ball in at point-blank range.
Mervue had to wait until a minute before half time for their first chance with Noel Varley attempting a chip on Delany which just fell over the bar.
The home side came out with a hunger or more goals, and Mark Leech could have put them two up after 48 minutes. Marc Hughes beat his man out wide and chipped it up skilfully for Leech, who agonisingly headed the ball against the crossbar.
Leech atoned for that miss a minute later though with a ripping shot from about 25 yards out which left Hanley no chance and sent Shels two up.
His up-and-down match continued soon after though, when he had a penalty saved by Ger Hanley.
Hanley was again Leech's bane on 74 minutes, producing a brilliant save to deny his header at goal. He had nothing to do with Leech's second miss straight afterwards, as the striker headed just wide.
The Mervue 'keeper was superb for most of the match- and were it not for his saves the Westerners could have gone down by 5 or 6 goals. But he was powerless to resist Shels' third goal.
David Cassidy drafted a free-kick in from way out and Ian Ryan headed the ball in with great power on 78 minutes. A controlling performance from Shels was sealed with a final ten minutes which saw Mervue completely restricted.
Shelbourne FC: Dean Delany, Stephen Quigley, Sean Byrne [Gareth Whelan '84], Ian Ryan, Stephen Paisley, Paul Shiels, David McGill, David Cassidy [Brian Farrell '79], Mark Leech, Marc Hughes [Colin O'Brien '61], Ray Scully
Subs not Used: Steve Williams, , Eric Foley
Mervue United: Ger Hanley, Kevin Crehan, Dan Cunningham [Mike Collins '68], Martin Conneely, Mike Elwood, Noel Varley, Alex Lee, Eric Browne, Rory Gaffney, Mike Tierney [Bryan Kenny '24], Mark Ludden
Subs not used: Enda Curran, Dumitra Razvan Popescu, Adrian Cronin
Referee: John Grimes
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Ger Hanley
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.