Shelbourne struck after just sixteen seconds in their game against UCD on Friday night. Speaking at the UCD Bowl after the game, Shelbourne manager Alan Mathews was obviously very pleased with the early goal but also with his teams determination to win a game in which they played 77 minutes with just 10 men.
“Yeah it was a great start,” said Mathews told Extratime.ie. “We pressed the ball high and Paddy Kavanagh got a good block in. Philly Gorman was on the spot to finish the move as expertly as anyone would want him to. The game was altered with the sending off of Sean Byrne. We had to change tactics and change plan but overall it was an excellent performance from start to finish.”
Sean Byrne received his marching orders for a very heavy tackle on UCD’s Mark Langtry on 13 minutes. Mathews re-arranged his side by substituting Philly Hughes as he’d done when Shels also went down to ten men in the opening period of their game against Shamrock Rovers earlier in the season. Unlike against Rovers, Shels had the early goal advantage to work with on Friday. It was Barry Clancy who came on for Hughes and the visitors reverted to a 4-4-1 system with Philly Gorman putting in a good performance as the lone striker.
“I thought Philly Gorman finished off the goal brilliantly,” said his manager Mathews. “He then played for practically 90 minutes up front on his tod. He came back on the edge of his box getting blocks, getting headers and then got up again to get on the end of a cross or the end of pass. For me, he epitomised the attitude and the positive work rate of everyone tonight.”
Shelbourne needed to work hard against a UCD team who are very comfortable on the ball and they limited the Students to just two strikes on goal.
“We tried to get our players to play in the right areas, to try and defend properly as a unit. The players adapted and showed a lot of qualities in digging in. UCD had a lot of the ball, they are probably one of the fittest teams in the country. We played them for 90 minutes practically with 10 men. Overall we are very pleased with a lot of aspects of play tonight like the performance of players to keep the ball in tight situations then to break with positivity and when we didn’t have it, to get compact and deny them any opportunities to get in on goal.
“We were good with the ball and good without the ball. We’ve got good players on the ball who can pass and who can move. And when we didn’t have it, we showed the other side of our game. We got nice and tight and we did the ugly side of the game. If you are going to win games, you are going to have to do both. And thankfully tonight we did both.”
That is back-to-back wins for Shelbourne who face a difficult trip to league leaders Sligo Rovers next Friday night but will be buoyed by their disciplined performance and win over the Students. Sligo’s manager Ian Baraclough, who watched Shels’ win from the press box in Belfield, will have plenty to ponder ahead of that game against Shels after they produced such a fine defensive display in this 2-0 win over UCD.
Macdara made his debut as a football supporter in Lansdowne Road watching Ireland defeat Liechtenstein. He still believes one day he will see his club Shamrock Rovers win an FAI Cup. You can follow Macdara on twitter @macdarabueller