Tolka Park witnessed Shelbourne come from behind against fellow promotees Monaghan United to take all three points by a 2-1 scoreline tonight.
The Dubliners started with real intent. David Cassidy had a header tipped over by Monaghan netminder Michael Shlingerman in the first minute.
Three consequtive corners later, Shelbourne almost had the ball in the net again – twice. First, Philly Gorman’s header hit the bar, before Philly Hughes effort was cleared off the line by Conor McMahon.
Shelbourne had the next chance in the 17th minute, but Paddy Kavanagh hit his shot high and not-so-handsome after cutting in from the left wing. Shelbourne were in the ascendancy and it seemed only a matter of time before they would break the deadlock.
Monaghan rarely threatened the Shelbourne goal in the first half as their main tactic involved trying to catch Shels on the break. Conor Murphy worked hard for the Mons up front but was often without support.
Murphy had a shot on target for Monaghan in the 24th minute but it lacked any power, while Jordan Keegan’s effort on 35 minutes had power but lacked direction.
However, Shels were the only team creating clear cut chances. Kavanagh stung the hands of Shlingemann on 22 minutes and that effort was followed by Hughes heading just over the bar in the 32nd minute after a Murphy cross.
Kavanagh topped off an impressive first half performance with another shot on the 40 minute mark which went just over. The only blot on Shelbourne’s copy book in the first half, other than their failure to score a goal, was a booking picked up by David Cassidy for a rash tackle on Conor McMahon.
But Cassidy nearly made up for his indiscipline straight away, when his header on 43 minutes hit the bar. When the referee blew for half time, Roddy Collins must have been the happier man as his side had somehow not conceded a goal.
Monaghan needed to change things to get back into this game and at half time they made their second substitution of the game. Robert Bayly came on as Danny McGuinness made way and they started the half brightly.
Monaghan’s increased intensity brought an early reward as they took the lead after 54 minutes. Jordan Keegan took Monaghan’s first corner of the game and the ball was cleared back out to him close to the corner flag.
He burst straight into the box with the ball as the Shelbourne defence hesitated and he was felled by Sean Byrne. The referee had no choice but to point to the spot. Willo McDonagh dispatched the resultant penalty off the underside of the crossbar.
The goal gave the visitors more confidence but Shels struck next. A Hughes cross fell to Cassidy and his deflected shot fell to Paddy Kavanagh. Kavanagh made sure of it and put the teams all square again with half an hour left to play.
The three points were back in the balance and Shelbourne did not wait long to strike again. On 71 minutes David Cassidy lobbed Shlingemann expertly after a long ball out of defence was flicked on by Gorman.
The Reds smelled blood and almost made it 3-1 on 78 minutes after some classy build-up play. Hughes released Cassidy and the latter's cross was inviting, but Sean Byrne could not make contact when the slightest touch would have put it into the back of the net.
On 87 minutes Shels went desperately close again. Glen Cronin crossed for Philly Hughes at the back post. Somehow, Darragh Reynor managed to clear Hughes shot off the line and kept his team in the game until the final whistle.
Monaghan continue their search for their second victory of the season. Despite promising patches in the game, they didn’t deserve to take anything away from Tolka Park. It seems like it will be a long tough season for Roddy Collins' men.
Shelbourne: Dean Delany; Gareth Matthews, Brian Shorthall, Andy Boyle, Sean Byrne; David Cassidy (Kevin Dawson, 90), Glen Cronin, Paddy Kavanagh, Anto Murphy (John Sullivan, 84); Philip Gorman, Philip Hughes.
Subs not used: Paul Skinner, Conan Byrne, Barry Clancy, Paul Byrne, Ian Ryan.
Bookings: Cassidy (41).
Monaghan United: Michael Shlingeman; Shaun Maher, Conor McMahon, Aidan Collins, Paul Whelan (Darragh Reynor 21); Jordan Keegan, Bobby Ryan (Owen Humphrey 76), Danny McGuinness (Robert Bayly 45), Stephen Maher; Willo McDonagh, Conor Murphy.
Subs not used: Conor Forde, Roddy Collins, Tony Griffiths, Jason Marks.
Bookings: McDonagh (68).
Referee: Graham Kelly.
Extratime.ie man of the match: David Cassidy (Shelbourne).
Paul Walsh is a part-time freelance journalist based in Dublin and freelancing for a number of publications. Follow him on twitter @walshpots