Youths take a point despite Shels onslaught

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Tolka Park

Wexford Youths will be counting themselves lucky after leaving Tolka Park with a point after an entertaining, albeit one-sided goaless draw in the capital. Shelbourne dominated the possession from the start and had numerous efforts to take all three points but they just could not break the deadlock and will be left fuming with this result as they push towards the latter stage of the season.

The first half was a lively affair. Shelbourne were in control for most of the opening exchanges. Gareth Coughlan had a wonderful chance to put his side ahead early in the game. The winger moved in from the left hand side of the pitch and muscled his way towards the centre of the box. Pulling off a dummy shot, Coughlan then gave himself plenty of space and time to take a crack at goal. His effort curled from right to left but landed straight in the arms of Youth’s keeper Graham Doyle.

Coughlan also had a few other chances to put his side ahead. However, his efforts were soft and were easily picked up by Doyle. The best effort in the half started with a lovely pass by Philip Hughes, his back to the goal, laying the ball to Mark Sandford. The young striker hit the ball sweetly with his right foot and it was curling towards goal. However, there was just a bit too much power behind it as it crept over the bar.

Wexford Youths came into their own after the first quarter. Ryan Delaney went close to putting the visitors ahead with a perfectly timed header from a free kick. The effort was picked out by Shelbourne’s shot stopper, Greg Murray.

Wexford Youths came back onto the pitch after the break a livelier side as they knew, arguably, they should have been behind going in at half time. Andrew Mulligan went close to putting his side ahead with a low shot to the right which troubled Murray as the ball spilled out of his hands. Danny Furlong went for a strike at goal but was beaten to the punch by Murray who tucked the ball safely in his hands and chest. A let off for the home side.

The second half was only ten minutes old when the the biggest talking point of the game occurred. James English, on for Mark Sandford at the break, had made his way into the box when attempting to slither through two of the visiting defenders. The striker clattered into the defence and landed flat on the ground, hands in the air. The referee and his assistant judged that there wasn’t much in it. A real let off for the visitors as a penalty could have easily been given on another day.

In the latter stages of the half, It was all the home side. They attacked and attacked but they just could not break the deadlock. Hughes had a few good efforts at goal. The pick of the punch being Darragh Gannon directing a long pass to the striker, who picked it up just inside the area and took a shot, however the effort was tipped wide by Doyle.

English seemed to be brought down a second time in the box. However, he looked to have made the most of it as it appeared that Lee Grace had grabbed a fistful of the striker’s shirt. The striker also went close several times from dead ball situations. He managed to direct a number of headers towards goal but they either crept over, were tipped over or cleared inches from the line.

The draw halts Shelbourne’s four game winning streak. They now sit in third place, four points behind new league leaders, Finn Harps. UCD, who are fourth, remain a threat to Shels, as they sit one point behind but have two games in hand after their exploits in Europe. Shelbourne travel to fifth place, Cobh Ramblers next Saturday as they push ahead in their bid for promotion back to the Premier Division.

Wexford Youths drop to second in the league despite earning their first point in nearly three weeks. They will be at home next Friday to welcome Finn Harps in the clash of the top two in the division. Manager, Shane Keegan will know that his side will need to improve if they wish to secure the top spot once again.

SHELBOURNE: Murray, Gannon, Osam, Robinson, Heaney, Doyle (C), Coughlan, Donnelly (Walsh 60′), Hughes, Sandford (English 45′), McGlade

Substitutes: Ryan, Andrews, Crowe, O’Sullivan, Walshe
Yellow Cards: Coughlan (35′)

Wexford Youths: Doyle (C), McCabe, R.Delaney (Tyrell 61′), G.Delaney, Grace, Higgins, Mulligan, Wall, Furlong, Cathillane (Dunne 93′), Whittle (Molloy 61′)

Substitutes: Dunne, Dermody, Kenny, Peare, Dowling
Yellow Cards: Wall (85′)

Referee: Ben Connolly

Attendance: 762

Shelbourne take three points from Athlone visit

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Tolka Park

Shelbourne secured a 3-1 win on a chilly summer’s night at Tolka Park. The match had its share of controversy but a fine display by the hosts meant they took all three points and kept their sights firmly on the promotion race back to the Premier Division.

It was the home side that got off to a flying start after only four minutes of play. Shelbourne were awarded a free kick some 25 yards out and Gareth Coughlan stood up to the dead ball effort. His effort was low and was missed by all in the box. However, it landed at the feet of Sean Heaney. The defender, from six yards out, struck the ball into the back of the net. Athlone’s Philip Gorman was unlucky not to clear the ball off the line and will no doubt be rueing in not reaching the ball.

Shels were setting the pace in the first quarter to half an hour of the game and were closing down Athlone at every attempt when the visitors were on the ball. It wasn’t until the 20th minute that Athlone had their first real effort of the game. Daniel Purdy struck a free kick some 30 to 35 yards out. It was a fine effort, which was hit with some force. However, Shels keeper Greg Murray was on hand to collect the ball and keep his team ahead.

It was all Shels from thereon in. A long ball was picked up sweetly by Philip Hughes, who then dipped it over the head of Athlone defender Aidan Collins. The striker then connected with the ball for an effort on goal. His shot though, went across the box and wide of the goal. The Athlone fans let out a collective exhale as they witnessed their side stay in the game.

Heaney was close to doubling his side’s lead, and his own tally at that, close to end of the first half. Coughlan whipped in an lovely effort into the box. Defender, Heaney was the first to meet the ball but his effort just crept over the crossbar and out for a goal kick. The final bit of play of the half was left to veteran striker Hughes and Shels new boy James English. Hughes managed to weave his way to the edge of the box and saw his younger teammate creeping up behind him. He played the ball off to English but the young man’s effort to return the favour was poor and was cleared away by the Athlone defence.

When the sides returned to the pitch, it was Athlone Town that looked the livelier side. Stephen Dunne had an good effort from just outside the area. He struck the ball well but it took a slight deflection and was collected easily by Murray.

In the end, Athlone Town’s attacking efforts paid off. The visitors worked their way into the box and made some lovely passes within the box. the ball landed to Aidan Friel just inside the edge of the box. His pass picked out Jamie O’Donnell, who from seven or eight yards out powered the ball into the back of the net.

Shels hit back though and were close to retaking the lead when Daire Doyle met the ball with the back of his head. The effort looped high but sailed over the bar and didn’t trouble Paddy Dunican.

The next few minutes were turbulent to say the least. Shelbourne kept pushing at and attacking the Athlone defence. It was if they were adamant to get that vital goal. The clock was creeping up to the 65th minute when Coughlan, on the half way line, chipped a lovely ball ahead of Hughes. It was a battle between Hughes and Town captain, Brian Shorthall, to win the ball. The striker did enough to bully the defender off the ball and from inside the box fired an effort that hit the back of the net. Shels were in the lead again.

The match had only restarted when, Athlone goalscorer, O’Donnell went in high on a tackle with Jake Donnelly. The referee didn’t need to hear the roar of the crowd to make up his mind on this one. It was a straight red for the striker.

Shelbourne used their advantage of having an extra man on the field. They constantly attacked when on the ball and used the long ball effectively. Their only offence was leaving their visitors with too much space to creep through and collect incoming passes.

Athlone to their credit were close to getting an equaliser towards the end of the proceedings. Purdy whipped in a free kick and Gorman, with plenty of space, lept into the air and tried to head the ball down towards the goal but his effort sailed over the crossbar and had Shels manager, Kevin Doherty, furious that his defence left so much space free for an effort to be made.

With the game in injury time, Shelbourne killed it off. Dylan McGlade collected a lovely high pass. The winger nutmeged the oncoming defender and worked his way around him. Collecting the ball at the right hand side, McGlade fired the ball high, over the keeper and into the back of net. The effort had those in the stands in amazement. His manager showed his delight with a punch of his fist into the cool Tolka breeze.

The final whistle was met with loud cheers from the home support as Shelbourne’s notched up their third league win in succession. This results now leaves them in third place in the league, three points ahead of UCD. However, the students have two games in hand. Shels will travel to the Regional Sports Centre next weekend to take on Waterford United.

This loss leaves Athlone Town with only one victory in their last five league games. They now sit in fifth place, six points behind the aforementioned UCD. They will have their hands full next week as they host league leaders, Wexford Youths.

SHELBOURNE: Murray, O’Connor, Osam, Robinson, Heaney, Doyle (C), Coughlan, Donnelly (Walsh 74′), Hughes, English (Walshe 79′), McGlade (Kehoe 91)

Substitutes: Ryan, Andrews, Gannon, Robinson
Goals: Heaney (4′), Hughes (64′), McGlade (90′)
Yellow Cards: Doyle (17′)

ATHLONE TOWN: Dunican, Friel, Doyle, Shortall (C) (Mulroney 71′), Collins, Dunne, Boyne, Purdy, Gorman, O’Neill (Gaul 67′), O’Donnell

Substitutes: Gleeson, O’Connor, Kelly, Hewitt, Molloy
Goals: O’Donnell (56′)
Yellow Cards: Friel (32′)
Red Cards: O’Donnell (66′)

Referee: John McLaughlin

Attendance: 583

Shels defeat Harps in Tolka thriller

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Shelbourne fans in Tolka Park

Shelbourne came away from a dramatic affair at Tolka Park with all three points after a 3-2 win against promotion rivals Finn Harps. The game was topsy turvy and had the fans out of their seats on more than one occasion, mostly due to the actions of the referee.

The home side started brightly in the game with some well placed passes. However, that was to be the extent of the good start for Shelbourne as what followed turned into a nightmare that manager, Kevin Doherty didn’t envisage for his side. The visitors won a corner on the 10th minute of the game and the result was the ball landing in the back of Shelbourne’s net. Harp’s defender Damien McNulty lept into the air and connected his head to the ball and powered it past Shel’s keeper, Greg Murray and into the top left hand corner of the net.

Shelbourne then tried to hit back in search of a quick response to the early goal. Unfortunately, three minutes later, forward, Mark Sanford went in with a high boot and connected with arm of Finn Harps keeper Ciaran Gallagher in the box. The referee went straight over to the Shels man and produced a red card. The home support voiced their displeasure at the decision. They had reason to complain as it looked like an honest effort to win the ball and not a deliberate attempt to injure the keeper.

The game began to heat up and tempers flared at times. The referee pulled out the cards yet again. All yellow this time. Two for Shelbourne and one for Finn Harps. Matt Crossan received a yellow card for Finn Harps for a high boot on Jake Donnelly. The home fans waited to see if the referee disciplined him like Sandford. Unfortunately for them, he didn’t see the challenge being as poor like the foul earlier in the game.

Then lady luck shone down on Shels for the first time in the game. A long ball was looking destined for Adam O’Connor, who had pushed forward. However, Keith Cowan barged into the back of the defender. There was a delayed reaction by the referee but he signaled to the spot. Up stepped fan favourite, Philly Hughes. The forward made no mistake as he drilled his effort straight down the middle.

That luck disappeared after the break. Finn Harps midfielder, Tony McNamee, looked to have strayed offside. The Shels players froze as the Harps’ man flicked the ball over Murray and it landed right in the back of the net. The entire Shelbourne bench poured onto the pitch as they couldn’t understand how the effort stood.

However, like the topsy turvy game this turned out to be. Shels were given the chance to make the game all square again with another penalty. The ball was looking destined for Hughes and again the Harps defence went in hard. Defender, Keith Cowan barged into Hughes’ back and sent the forward tumbling over. The referee pointed straight the spot and then marched straight to Cowan to brandish another red card. Again, another harsh decision by the referee. Hughes stepped up once again and blasted the ball to the left. Gallagher got a touch on the ball but not enough to keep it out.

From the restart, Shels pushed to get ahead for the first time in the game and they didn’t disappoint the home support. Hughes picked up a nice ball just outside the area and dribbled his way into the box around the keeper and blasted the ball into the net. A hat-trick for the cult hero.

Hughes nearly added his fourth with a sublime effort. From 40 yards out on the right hand side of the pitch, Hughes took a chance as he saw the keeper off his line. His effort crossed box and crashed off the corner of left hand upright and bounced away. The Shelbourne dugout and the fans believed the effort crossed the goal line but it was not given.

The tempo of the game went up a notch or two after Shelbourne went ahead but there was not much in terms of action after that, apart from a few half chances.

Hero

The hero of the game was undoubtedly Shelbourne’s Philly Hughes. The veteran striker’s performance never dipped during the 77 minutes he was on the pitch. He definitely had the belief that the game could be turned around and he didn’t stop after his hat-trick was complete.

Zero

Referee, Andrew Mullally and his two assistants had an extremely poor game. They missed a lot of the action off the ball and both the red cards, while adding drama to the proceedings, were completely unnecessary.

The Crowd Pleaser

One could argue, which was the the best moment of the night for the crowd. The third goal for the home side had the Shelbourne fans on the their feet. Nobody in Tolka Park expected to witness Shelbourne win after going a goal and man down in the first quarter of the game. However, Hughes had the crowd in the palm of his hand after he wheeled away from scoring what was the winning goal.

What Happens Next?

The win means Shelbourne now move up to fourth place, three points ahead of fifth place Athlone Town, who have a game in hand. They are also now six point behind leaders Wexford Youths, but Shels have played a game more. Shelbourne will play away next to Cabinteely in a fortnight. In the meantime, they will play a friendly against Hearts on Saturday week in Tolka Park.

Finn Harps will also play Cabinteely but at home next Friday night. They are in second place, just two points behind leaders Wexford Youths.

SHELBOURNE: Murray, O’Connor (C), Osam, R.Robinson, Heaney, J.Donnelly (Andrews 90′), McGlade, Walsh, Hughes (English 77′), Sandford, Earley (Kehoe 85′)

Substitutes: E.Donnelly, O’Sullivan, Keely, A.Robinson
Goals: Hughes (41′, 55′, 58′)
Yellow Cards: Walsh (26′), Earley (30′), Heaney (60′)
Red Cards: Sandford (14′)

FINN HARPS: Gallagher, McNulty, Coll, Cowan, P.Mailey (Friel 68′), Crossan (McMonagle 45′), McNamee, Foy (J..Mailey 84′), Tagbo, McHugh (C), Harkin

Substitutes: McCarron, McMenimen, Toland
Goals: McNulty (11′), McNamee (46′)
Yellow Cards: Crossan (21′), McNulty (76′)
Red Cards: Cowan (52′)

Referee: Andrew Mullally

Attendance: 614

Scotland break Irish hearts in Dublin

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Robbie Brady

The tame boos from the Irish fans were sounded out by the deafening cheers of the Scottish contingent at the final whistle at the Aviva Stadium as the visitors put a huge dent into Republic of Ireland’s hopes of qualifying for next summer’s European Championship in France. After dominating the first half, a lapse in concentration handed a priceless draw and point to Scotland in Group D.

The first half was fast paced with both teams starting brightly. The Irish were the first to have a crack at goal, after just two minutes, with Jeff Hendrick’s cross attempt collected by David Marshall.

The Scots followed two minutes later with their first effort. Stoke defender, Marc Wilson mistimed his pass to Jeff Hendrick and the ball was picked up by James Morrison. The Scottish midfielder worked his way up the pitch before passing to Steven Naismith. The Everton man’s attempt went across the box and ultimately wide.

The Scot’s best effort in the first half came from Steven Fletcher after just 10 minutes. The striker had the ball from about 20 yards out and hit it with some power that it forced Republic of Ireland keeper, Shay Given to stretch high and use the tips of his fingers to guide the ball over the crossbar.

Tempers flared at times. The game was hardly 10 minutes old, when James McCarthy went in hard on Scotland captain, Scott Brown. The latter was unimpressed by the younger midfielder’s antics and he wasn’t shy to express those feelings. Nonetheless, McCarthy escaped any punishment from the referee and was let off with a warning.

Glenn Whelan followed soon after. However, this time the yellow card was shown by the referee. The Stoke man caught Fletcher with a late standing tackle. McCarthy was again involved in a fracas and was punished accordingly, with a yellow card, after throwing an elbow into the face of Russell Martin. The Scottish defender was left with a cut on the bridge of his nose.

Then came the moment Irish fans were hoping for. After Marshall tipped over a Daryl Murphy header, Robbie Brady swung in the resulting corner. Again it met the head of Murphy. This time his effort landed straight at Marshall who could only parry the effort. The ball landed right at the feet of Jon Walters. The Irish forward only had to tap the ball into the net. He precisely did so and put the Boys in Green ahead just before the break.

The lead wasn’t to last long though. Scotland equalised just after the restart. Shaun Maloney played a lovely one-two with half time substitute Ikechi Anya in the box. Maloney then attempted to the curl the ball to the bottom left of the goal. The ball deflected off Irish captain John O’Shea and sailed past Given. The goal stunned the home fans as they had seen their team throw away a deserved lead.

The game then went full speed as both teams looked for the winner. The Scottish seemed to hold on the ball that bit better than the Irish. They constantly pushed forward at every opportunity that was afforded to them.

The Irish on the other hand, failed to use their opportunities. Robbie Brady, in particular, was poor with his crosses. The Hull City man hit some of them high and wide, especially at points in the game when the team needed balls delivered accurately into the box.

Ireland had a good opportunity on the 75th minute when substitute Robbie Keane got the ball and dummied the Scottish defence, leaving space open to fire a shot. He put a lot of power and accuracy behind the effort. Unfortunately, the ball went straight into the hands of Marshall.

Another Republic of Ireland substitute, James McClean also had a good chance to put the Irish ahead again, from a corner. The Derry man, worked to get the space and put himself high to meet Brady’s ball. However, while the effort connected, the ball went wide off the upright.

McClean was also part of one of the last significant incidents of the game. The Wigan Athletic midfielder, unimpressed with a decision given against his side, got into a war of words with Steven Naismith. It appeared as if McClean grazed his head against Naismith’s. The referee came over to separate the two and gave a yellow card to each player for their troubles.

Speaking after the game, Republic of Ireland manager, Martin O’Neill expressed his disappointed with conceding the equaliser to Scotland. However, he stressed that his side are still in with a chance of qualifying for next summer’s tournament in France.

“I thought we were very dominant in the first half. We deserved to be in front. We absolutely fell asleep for the [equalising] goal even though it was going miles wide. Just after half time, we should have closed it down on three different occasions. I thought Scotland got a big lift from that. I thought their best spell was after that, for 10 minutes. I thought we pulled ourselves round and I thought we were going to win it in the end. We didn’t and I am obviously disappointed not to have won,” said O’Neill.

The manager also looked back on his 18 months in charge and is happy with how things have been going for the Boys in Green. “There are a number of players coming through, which, I’m obviously delighted with. However, let us see where we are at the end of the campaign,” O’Neill concluded.

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan, lamented his side’s second half performance, which helped them secure a point in Dublin.

“For all you say about systems, we couldn’t get ours working. Whether it’s through Ireland pressing, the physical strength. They are a big team. Maybe that stopped us or maybe it was our lack of match fitness. So, we took a look at it at half time and we moved a couple of people about. We never had a chance to see if our system worked. All I know is, a very good player [Maloney] scored a wonderful goal again. A very good player has got us a point,” said the Scottish manager.

Strachan was also impressed by the intensity of match considering it was at the end of the season. He also wouldn’t comment on the group standing saying that “you never know what the points are going to be to get you to qualify.” The Scottish manager, to the amusement of the Irish press, congratulated the referee on his performance and said he was “terrific the whole game” and he helped add intensity to the game.

The Republic of Ireland now have a real fight on their hands to make the Euro finals next summer. They currently sit in fourth place, three points behind today’s visitors. They will travel to Gibraltar next, in early September, followed by a home fixture against Georgia.

Scotland, on the other hand, will face Georgia away, followed by a home fixture in Hampden Park against World champions, Germany, 3 days later. They now sit second in Group D, a point ahead of Germany, who have a game in hand against Gibraltar.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Given, Coleman, Wilson, O’Shea (C), Brady, Hendrick, Whelan (McClean 67′), McCarthy, Hoolahan (Keane 73′) , Walters, Murphy (Long 80′)

Substitutes: Forde, Westwood, Keogh, McGeady, Meyler, Christie, Ward, Quinn, McGoldrick

Goals: Walters (38′)
Yellow Cards: Whelan (19′), McCarthy (30′), McClean (88′)

SCOTLAND: Marshall, Hutton, Martin, Mulgrew, Forsyth, Ritchie (Anya 45′), Brown (C) (McArthur 84′), Morrison, Naismith (Berra 91′), Maloney, S.Fletcher

Substitutes: Gordon, Samson, Whittaker, D.Fletcher, Adam, Greer, Robertson, Forrest, Griffiths

Goals: O’Shea (OG 46′)
Yellow Cards: Naismith (88′)

Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (Italy)

After 20 years in the making – it’s a dull draw at Aviva Stadium

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Republic of Ireland

The Republic of Ireland welcomed their visitors, England, to a warm and sunny Dublin for the first time in 20 years. There was a lot of talk in the build up to this fixture regarding the last time the English supporters were in town. Fortunately, the atmosphere this time around in the stands was less volatile. The same could be said on the pitch, as both teams played out a dull scoreless draw that failed to thrill those in attendance at the Aviva Stadium.

The first half was a pretty drab affair but the Boys in Green were the first to go on the attack. Straight from the kick-off the Irish worked the ball into the box, with striker, David McGoldrick having an effort on goal deflected wide by an English defender. The game did not pick up again until the second quarter when Aiden McGeady whipped in a cross from the edge of the box towards McGoldrick, who just couldn’t connect his head to the ball correctly.

It was the Irish who dominated the second quarter of the game, with a few clear-cut chances to put them ahead. Daryl Murphy had two great chances to get on the score sheet. His first, after working his way into the box, he shot low and hard but his effort sailed past, not only England ‘keeper, Joe Hart, but also past the far upright. The second chance came from a Robbie Brady free kick. The whip in came in perfectly for the Ipswich Town striker but he couldn’t connect to it properly and his attempt went wide, not troubling the English defence.

England also had a few chances on goal. Their best effort coming just before half time as Adam Lallana worked his way to the edge of the box. His long-range effort just went over a stretching Kieren Westwood and the crossbar.

The game came to life in the second half and it was England who had the first real attempt at goal. A mistake by defender Marc Wilson gifted Jordan Henderson the ball. The midfielder then laid it off to Wayne Rooney. However, the captain couldn’t get the proper first touch and balled rolled toward a relieved Westwood. A lucky escape for the Irish.

There were numerous chances for both teams throughout the half. Brady troubled Hart with a free kick from the edge of the box. The Manchester City ‘keeper wasn’t able to collect the ball. Instead, it bounced off his chest and out for an Irish corner. Rooney also had a half chance with a free kick on the edge of the area. The captain’s effort, however, was caught by Westwood.

England’s best effort was left to substitute, Andros Townsend. The Spurs man cracked the ball with force just outside of the area. His shot troubled substitute keeper Shay Given, who could only parry the effort.

Harry Arter, making his senior international debut as a substitute, also had a chance on goal. After working the ball forward, the midfielder tried an effort on goal rather then lay the ball to a teammate. His effort didn’t trouble Hart as it flew across the box and past the goal.

The game fizzled out towards the end, apart from a few lame efforts from Ross Barkley, which didn’t trouble the Irish defence. It was to end as yet another draw between these sides, the eighth in total.

Speaking after the game, Republic of Ireland manager, Martin O’Neill said the game was good preparation ahead of next week’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Scotland. “It was exactly what we needed. I thought in the last fifteen minutes we were pretty tired looking. We started off brightly in the game and maybe we could have scored a couple of goals. We certainly had a couple of decent chances. Overall, it was good for us and from a physical viewpoint, it couldn’t have been better timed,” said the Irish manager.

O’Neill also suggested the game allowed him to experiment and bring in new faces. “I think that what you do, is you ask the players to give you some problems to try and solve between now and Saturday. Some new faces as well, with Daryl Murphy coming in and eventually, Harry Arter getting on the field of play. So just overall, players to go and try and perform because it is their last opportunity to do so. I think it was a very decent response,” said O’Neill.

Regarding his thoughts on next week’s starting eleven against Scotland, the manager refused to give any details on who might start. Talking about next week’s fixture, O’Neill said, “I will see how the player’s came out of the game physically and certainly during the course of the week we will try and step up training. I was hoping at one stage that I could have got Wes Hoolahan on the field. He has played a number of games and he came late into the squad because he was getting some tests done. While, I’m sure it would have been nice for him to play the last twenty odd minutes, we had run out of substitutes.”

England manager, Roy Hodgson, shared O’Neill’s sentiments that the game was a warm up ahead of the next week’s qualifiers. “I think it was a game both teams needed after the season ending for most of them a good couple of weeks ago or in some cases three weeks ago,” said the England manager.

Hodgson was delighted that the match passed off without incident and that. He also suggested that the Irish will be the happier of the two teams with the result. “The positives for me, were harder to find I think, than they would have been for Martin. Two obvious positives were, the spirit in which the game was played. Competitive, I think both teams were trying to win and the atmosphere in the stadium and the behaviour of the sets of fans was a remarkable positive because it hasn’t always been that way,” said Hodgson.

Asked for a prediction for next week’s match between Republic of Ireland and Scotland, the English manager said, “I think it is going to be a really ding-dong battle next week. I think it is going to be very competitive, very exciting. Obviously, more exciting than today’s game because today’s game was only a friendly. In the game next Saturday, every time the ball is bouncing in your box or the Scottish box, Martin and his staff and Gordon and his staff are going to be really excited, as will the fans. The only prediction I can safely make is that it will be a very, very tight game, very fiercely contested and I don’t expect it to be a 5-4. I expect it more to be a 1-0 or a 2-1.”

The Republic of Ireland will take some positives looking ahead to a crucial Euro 2016 qualifier against Scotland next Saturday as they defended well against an undefeated side in qualifiers, who have scored fifteen goals in five games. John O’Shea is the only injury doubt for the Boys in Green. The Sunderland defender has a problem with his calf but O’Neill is hopeful that he can shake it off in time for next week’s game.

Meanwhile, England will be hoping to continue their undefeated streak in Group E of Euro 2016 qualifiers, as they face second placed Slovenia, away, next Sunday.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Westwood (Given 60′), Wilson, Coleman, O’Shea (C) (McShane 71′), McCarthy (McClean 45′), Hendrick, Whelan (Arter 63′), McGeady, Brady, Murphy (Walters 55′), McGoldrick (Long 45′)

Substitutes: Forde, Randolph, Keogh, Christie, Pearce, Ward, Quinn, Meyler, Hoolahan

ENGLAND: Hart, Jones, Bertrand, Henderson, Cahill (Jagielka 73′), Smalling, Wilshere (Barkley 65′), Milner, Sterling (Townsend 65′), Rooney (C) (Vardy 73′), Lallana (Walcott 82′)

Substitutes: Green, Heaton, Gibbs, Delph, Austin, Cleverley, Clyne

Referee: Arnold Hunter (Northern Ireland)

Shelbourne outclass Cabinteely for precious three points

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Shelbourne fans in Tolka ParkShelbourne picked up their first three points since late March after a fine performance against seventh place Cabinteely. Coincidentally, those last three points were picked up in the reverse fixture against the visitors to Tolka Park. The win will also ease the pressure somewhat on manager, Kevin Doherty. He will be hoping that this victory will the put the life back into his squad as they try to move forward after a tough couple of weeks.

The first half started well for the home side. Shelbourne poured the pressure on their visitors from the off. Wingers, Gareth Coughlan and Dylan McGlade troubled the Cabinteely defense on numerous occasions, shifting sides and connecting with some lovely passes to Mark Sandford. The forward covered every blade of grass on the pitch in an effort to win the ball for his side.

The home side’s pressure paid off just before half time. Defender, Adam O’Connor picked up the ball on the edge of the box. With plenty of time to shoot, O’Connor hit the ball with a soft touch of his right foot. His effort crept past Cabinteely keeper, Even Whelan and into the bottom left hand corner of the net.

Cabinteely also had some chances to get into the game. However, they just couldn’t make their efforts work. John McKeown was allowed too much space in the box with the ball early on. Fortunately for Shels, the midfielder scuffed his effort and the home side were able to clear the ball.

It was all Shelbourne in the second half. The home side had most of the possession and were constantly attacking their visitors whenever the chance came begging. They were unlucky to add a second goal to their tally. Their best effort was a Conor Earley free kick from the edge of the area. His effort went just over the crossbar. There was also a penalty shout in the dying moments of the game. Craig Walsh looked to be taken down in the box. However, the referee saw it differently and showed the midfielder a yellow card for a dive.

Cabinteely could have snuck a goal in before full-time to take an undeserving point away from Tolka Park. Midfielder, Evan Finnegan, was allowed plenty of time on the ball on the edge of the box. He struck his effort low and hard but it went across the box and inches wide of the post. Shelbourne held off the late attack and secured a precious three points.

Hero

Mark Sandford. The striker was unlucky to be taken off after 63 minutes. However, he had done enough in that time and probably should have put his name on the scoresheet. He was tracking down the ball at every effort and put the Cabinteely defense under pressure whenever he could. A fine display by the young striker.

Zero

Victor Ekanem and Robert Maloney. The central defenders were beaten multiple times by Mark Sandford and Philly Hughes. They were lucky not to concede more goals throughout the game as Shelbourne were relentless in pursuing for a second.

The Crowd Pleaser

The home fans were happy to see their side play some exciting football following last week’s poor showing. However, the pieces of skill that impressed the crowd were undoubtedly, the beautiful long passes made by Dylan McGlade. The winger’s passes were impressive and nearly all of them landed at the feet of their intended target. It was definitely an improvement on last week’s display and got the crowd buzzing.

Best Battle

Dylan Mc Glade vs Daniel Campbell and Jamie McGlynn. The Shels winger zipped past the two full backs several times and made it look easy. Between changing flanks with his partner on the wing, Gareth Coughlan, McGlade managed to work the ball into the box several times and made some perfect long passes to the feet of Sandford and Hughes.

What Happens Next?

With this win Shelbourne end a streak of four league games without a victory. Their next fixture is an away tie against Athlone Town. The reverse fixture ended with a 3-1 win for The Town in Tolka Park, a rarity. The Drumcondra side now move up a spot in the table from sixth to fifth after Cobh Rambler’s lost away to Wexford Youths.

Cabinteely stay put in seventh place with eight points, one ahead of bottom side, Waterford United who held Finn Harps to a 2-2 draw at Finn Park. It’s the clash of the bottom two next week as Cabinteely travel to Waterford United for their next league tie.

SHELBOURNE: Murray, O’Connor, Osam, Robinson, Heaney, Doyle (C), Coughlan (Earley 67′), Walsh, Hughes, Sandford (O’Sullivan 63′), McGlade

Substitutes: Brady, Donnelly, Crowe, Kehoe, Gannon
Goals: O’Connor (41′)
Yellow Cards: Doyle (13′), Coughlan (42′), Robinson (60′), Walsh (87′)

Cabinteely: Whelan, Campbell (Cairns 76′), McGlynn, Ekanem, Maloney(C), Finnegan, Brilly, McKeown (Mazono 44′), Pender, Hanley, Foley (Fahy 66′)

Substitutes: J. Broderick, R. Broderick, Cairns, O’Neill, Hyland

Referee: David Keeler

Attendance: 391

UCD pile more misery onto hopeless Shels

Standard

Tolka Park

Another week and another defeat for Shelbourne, their fourth in a row. Tensions will be high in Tolka Park and it nearly boiled over as a home fan approached manager Kevin Doherty just before the final whistle and vented his frustration regarding the team’s performance. UCD will be undoubtedly happy to revenge their earlier loss in season and put themselves into contention in the promotion race.

The first half was full of drama as UCD put themselves 2-0 up after only 20 minutes. Captain Chris Mulhall put the visitors into the lead after a fine leap into the air, the ball meeting his boot and putting it past Shels’ keeper Greg Murray. Murray will be particularly disappointed to let that goal get in. It wasn’t too much long later that UCD got their second goal of the game. Gary O’Neill picked up the ball at the centre circle and found Jack Watson, who had plenty of space to head the ball over a rushing Murray. Manager, Kevin Doherty became unusually quiet on the sidelines. His assistant John Martin, proceeded to give the instructions from the sideline. Even a word in the ear from Philly Hughes couldn’t get Doherty’s mood to change.

With just over 5 minutes remaining in the half, UCD’s O’Neill went in hard on Jake Donnelly, sending the Shels’ midfielder crashing into the ground. The referee went straight to his pocket and brandished the red card. O’Neill was off for an early bath despite his bit of excellence earlier in the game.

Shelbourne did pick up the pace a bit in the second half but there was not enough fire power to get them back in the game. They had several efforts on goal but failed to hit the target except on the odd occasion. The home home side also managed to work the ball into the box and had plenty of chances to shoot but none of the players would take the chance under pressure. Gareth Coughlan nearly got a goal for the home side in added time but his effort was cleared off the line at the last moment.

Hero

UCD captain Chris Mulhall impressed and he topped off a good display with a fine goal that lead his team to victory. He lead by example and kept the pressure on his team to keep up the pace and attack the home side.

Zero

Gary O’Neill – The midfielder tarnished his perfect assist earlier in the half with a very late tackle on Jake Donnelly. It was definitely worthy of a red card and he was lucky that his team was already two goals to the good.

The Crowd Pleaser

Without doubt Jack Watson’s goal stunned the crowd. The only thing the home fans could do was applaud as it was a fine effort. Shels fans will hope to see like goals like that as the season goes on. In the meantime, they are just hoping their team can score at all.

Best Battle

UCD vs Shelbourne’s defense. The Students exposed the weakness of the Shels defense several times and managed to weave their way into the box from the left flank. This area the pitch has been exposed a few times against Shels in recent fixtures and will definitely need to be worked on by Doherty and his staff.

What Happens Next?

With this defeat Shelbourne still sit in fifth place in the league but should Cobh Ramblers come away with a win or a draw in their next fixture then Shels will drop to sixth. Their next fixture is a home tie against Cabinteely. The fixture is a must win. Another defeat could cost Shels their promotion ambition and will really put the pressure on manager, Kevin Doherty.

UCD move into third with this victory on goal difference at the expense of Athlone Town. The Town can reclaim that spot with a win over Cobh tomorrow. The Students next fixture is another away fixture, this time to Athlone Town. A fixture that could see the Students kick start their own promotion bid.

SHELBOURNE: Murray, O’Connor, Osam, Crowe (Doyle 34′), Heaney, Donnelly (Earley 69′), Coughlan, Walsh, Andrews (C) (Hughes 45′), Sandford, McGlade

Substitutes: Donnelly, Earley, O’Sullivan, Kehoe, Robinson
Yellow Cards: Crowe (25′), Doyle (50′), O’Connor (56′), Coughlan (71′)

UCD: Corbett, Langtry, Leahy, Boyle, McLaughlin, O’Neill, Watts, Mulhall (C), Watson, Swan (Cannon 81′), Doyle (Benson 57′)

Substitutes: Mackey, Coyne, Tobin, Kougoun, Cannon, Kirwan
Goals: Mulhall (10′), Watson (19′)
Yellow Cards: McLaughlin (90′)
Red Cards: O’Neill (37′)

Referee: Marc Lynch

Attendance: 552