The first meeting of the week between Dundalk and Shelbourne ended with the Lilywhites winning by one goal to nil on a baltic evening at Oriel Park!
Kurtis Byrne proved to be the match winner as his shot from inside the box gave the Lilywhites a deserved victory in the EA Sports Cup.
The home side began the brighter and controlled much of the opening stages without creating anything of note. Keith Ward had a free-kick blocked by the Shelbourne wall before Tiarnan Mulvenna had a goal ruled out for offside on 13 minutes, after he tapped home Vinny Faherty’s lob although it seemed destined for the net anyway.
Mark Leech then tried to catch Peter Cherrie off guard in the Dundalk goal but he comfortably held onto the ball. After receiving treatment for a facial injury, Richie Towell then had two shots on goal within seconds of each other. His first effort was a brilliant shot from close to the halfway line which had to be tipped over by Shels ‘keeper Niall Burdon. Moments later Towell once again had a long range effort but this time it was never troubling the goalkeeper.
Stephen McDonnell then brought another excellent save out of Burdon as he pushed away the Dundalk native’s shot from distance and Leech then had another effort for Shelbourne but he dragged it wide of Cherrie’s goal. Just before half-time, Dundalk should have taken the lead. Despite the visitors appeals for offside, Ward’s pass found Mulvenna in the box and his shot was straight at Burdon and Darren Meenan’s rebound effort was also saved by the ‘keeper but was deemed offside regardless.
Despite Dundalk’s pressure and efforts on goal, the sides went in level at the break.
Shelbourne dominated the opening minutes of the second half and Alex Prizeman had the first effort on goal following a quickly taken free-kick from Robert Bayly but former Shel Andy Boyle denied him. Leech brought a good save from Cherrie when he got his head to Sean Brennan’s cross just before the half hour mark.
A frantic spell of five minutes began as Dundalk registered their first shot of the half and it was Meenan who was again denied by Burdon as his shot from close range was closed down by the ‘keeper, From the resulting counter attack, Shelbourne substitute Philip Hughes had a shot from 30 yards go just wide.
Byrne then tried his luck from an acute angle just inside the Shelbourne box but it curled away from goal. Towell tried another shot from 25 yards but this one went harmlessly wide. With 15 minutes on the clock, the home side did break the deadlock.
Substitutes John Dillon and Byrne combined with the former providing the cross to the ex-Ross County star who made no mistake when finishing from six yards. Byrne almost scored again moments later (and many felt he had!). After some neat skill to get away from the Shels defence he found himself one-on-one with Burdon and, as the ‘keeper approached, he lobbed the ball towards goal. The ball appeared to hit the post and cross the line but the referee said no and the game continued!
Shelbourne almost equalised with three minutes remaining as Leech’s effort was brilliantly saved by Cherrie who pushed the ball onto the crossbar and the defence scrambled it away! Despite some late Shelbourne pressure, Dundalk held on to advance to the next round.
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; John Mountney, John Sullivan, Andy Boyle, Eoghan Osborne; Keith Ward (John Dillon 53), Stephen McDonnell, Richie Towell, Darren Meenan (Mark Rossiter 76); Tiarnan Mulvenna (Kurtis Byrne 60), Vinny Faherty.
Subs not used: Aaron Shanahan (GK), Stephen O’Donnell, Sami Osobe, Patrick Hoban.
Bookings: Richie Towell (82)
Shelbourne: Niall Burdon; Rob Cornwall, Graham Gartland, Brian Shortall, Jack Memery (Ian Ryan 48); Adam Hanlon, Paul Crowley, Robert Bayly, Alex Prizeman (Philly Hughes 63), Sean Brennan (Craig Mooney 81); Mark Leech.
Subs not used: Stephen Hurley, Eoin Comerford, Adam O’Connor, Darren Tinnelly.
Referee: Paul Tuite.
Attendance: 300 (estimate)
Extratime.ie Man of the match: Niall Burdon (Shelbourne).