Manager: Ian Morris
Stadium: Tolka Park
2019 Players in: Dan Byrne (Bohemians), Conan Byrne (St Patrick's Athletic), Oscar Brennan (Bohemians), Ryan Brennan (St Patrick's Athletic), Sean Quinn (UCD), Aidan Friel (Finn Harps), Alex O'Hanlon (Glentoran), Ciaran Kilduff (Jacksonville Armada), Darragh Noone (Bray Wanderers), Luke Byrne (Shamrock Rovers).
2019 Players out: Cian Kavanagh (Drogheda United), James Brown (Drogheda United), Lee Steacy (Longford Town), Mark Hughes (Drogheda United).
Extratime.ie Key Man: Ciaran Kilduff
The former Dundalk striker makes Tolka Park his home this season after spending the past 18 months in Florida with Jacksonville Armada. Kilduff has collected trophies at every club he has been at including winning the First Division title with UCD in 2009, and Premier Division titles with Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk.
Kilduff’s vast experience could prove to be invaluable in the dressing room but it is for his goal-scoring ability that he has been signed and he could provide the firepower for Shelbourne’s bid for promotion and a return to the top flight for the first time since 2013.
Extratime.ie One to Watch: John Ross Wilson
Defender John Ross Wilson delivered a number of impressive performances following his transfer in July of last year from their neighbours at Dalymount Park, Bohemians.
Wilson played in Shels’ last 11 league games and the 20-year-old showed a level of maturity that was key to their solid defence and their run to the play-offs.
Wilson’s timely off-the-line block which denied Mark Doyle during extra-time against Drogheda ensured nine-man Shels survived to that fateful penalty shoot-out in their memorable league play-off.
Manager Ian Morris will be delighted to have this talented defender for the 2019 season as part of what looks like an impressive squad.
How they did last season:
The extratime.ie team predicted the Reds would have to settle for mid-table mediocrity and finish the First Division in 6th last season, so, expectations around Tolka Park last season were conservative.
However, Shels almost gained promotion with their third-place finish giving them a place in the promotion/relegation quarter-final against Drogheda. Things looked good after they won the away leg in United Park but an extraordinary game in Tolka Park saw a nine-man Shelbourne come from 2-0 down before eventually losing on penalties.
Manager Owen Heary was discarded at the end last season despite the club finishing sixth, fourth and third in the seasons he was in charge and winning the Leinster Senior Cup in successive seasons. Guiding the club to the play-offs was clearly not enough for a club desperate to return to the top division.
FAI Cup: Second Round
Shelbourne crushed Athlone in round one with a 4-0 win at Tolka Park but any hopes of progression in this tournament were dashed by Longford Town who disposed of Shels in comfortable fashion at the City Calling Stadium in round two. Goals from Daniel O’Reilly and Dylan McGlade decided the tie.
EA Sports Cup: Third Round
Shelbourne impressed in the first round of the competition as they put three past Bray Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds to cruise through to the second round.
Drogheda United were Shelbourne’s next opponents in the competition and Jamie Doyle scored a hat-trick for the Reds in a 7-2 rout to take the First Division club through to the competition’s quarter-finals.
They then went on to meet the eventual winners Derry City in another goal-fest. The Dublin club came out the wrong side this time and departed the competition after a heavy 7-3 defeat.
What to expect this season:
Expectation is high at Tolka Park with the favourites tag attached to club by many analysts and the bookies.
The club have signed players with massive amounts of League of Ireland experience such as Conan Byrne, Oscar Brennan and Ciaran Kilduff.
Morris is putting his faith in experienced campaigners who should have the hunger to return to the Premier Division.
2018 ended in disappointment for Shelbourne fans and perhaps with a little luck they may have been starting life in the Premier Division this season.
Expectations for the upcoming season have been tempered slightly by their disappointing pre-season in which they failed to record a victory.
But it seems inevitable their raft of winter signings will click together as a unit as the season begins and at minimum the Reds will expect to match last season and gain a play-off spot.
Title Odds: 8/15
First game: Galway United (a) – February 22nd (kick-off 7.45pm).