Shelbourne had to come from behind to overcome Leinster Senior League side Cherry Orchard at Tolka Park on Friday, winning 3-2 to progress to the qurter-finals of the FAI Cup.
Shelbourne have had some hairy moments against non-league opposition in recent years, going out of the FAI Cup to Crumlin United in 2009 and enduring a controversial 3-2 reversal at the hands of Sheriff YC last season, before being re-admitted to the competition after their opponents had been found to have played an unregistered player.
Complacency, then, would not have been an issue for the Reds, and the home side duly set about their lower league opponents from the first whistle. All the early running was made by Shelbourne and it was against the run of play when Orchard went ahead.
With half an hour played Shels midfielder Glenn Cronin made an injudicious challenge on Geoff Doyle and conceded the penalty that Orchard striker Mark Hughes dispatched to the net.
But nine minutes later the sides were level when former Bray Wanderers player, Ian McNeill, gave away the game’s second spot kick. His rash challenge on Gareth Matthews allowed Shels hit-man Philly Hughes to step up and bag his 13th goal of the season.
Shelbourne took up where they left off after the break, continuing to apply all the pressure as they sought the goal that would send them into the last eight of the competition. David Cassidy and Glenn Cronin both had chances to put them ahead but failed to hit the target.
Finally, with eleven minutes left on the clock, Philly Hughes scored his second of the game when he got on the end of Cassidy’s cross and directed his header past Orchard ‘keeper Declan Woods. Then, as if to emphasise their dominance, Shels hit a third just three minutes later.
Substitute Conan Byrne was the man who made the result safe, cracking home a low shot just five minutes after entering the fray. There was still time for a response from Cherry Orchard and Mark Hughes provided it on 84 minutes, heading home to give the final minutes a more exciting edge than Shelbourne might have felt their performance deserved.
Shelbourne: Dean Delany; Gareth Matthews, Andy Boyle, Brian Shorthall, Lorcan Fitzgerald; Paddy Kavanagh, Kevin Dawson, Glenn Cronin, David Cassidy (Philip Gorman 87), Barry Clancy (Conan Byrne 77); Philip Hughes.
Subs not used: Paul Skinner, Stephen Paisley, Stephen Hurley, Sean Byrne, Paul Byrne.
Cherry Orchard: Declan Woods; David O’Sullivan (Philip Sheppard 85), Wayne Byrne, Marc Notaro, Ian McNeill; Lee Collins, John Cleary, Geoff Doyle (Derek Fay 85), Denis Moran, Jason O’Hara (Donal Murray 85); Mark Hughes.
Subs not used: Alan Caul, Jonathan Mullane, Liam Cummins, Sean Brazil.
Referee: Rob Rogers.
Extratime Man of the Match: Philip Hughes (Shelbourne).