There were somewhat farcical scenes before the match as Kildare didn't take to the pitch for their pre-match warm-up until ten minutes before kick-off. There were suggestions that there was a stand-off between the players and club Chairman Declan Forde over player contracts, as well as a few other minor issues, and Stephen McGuinness (General Manager with the PFAI) was called into the dressing room to talk to the Kildare County squad.
They eventually emerged sporting the Newbridge Town strip as Joey Somerville, who resigned along with his assistant Keith O'Halloran on Friday, had the regular Kildare County strip in his possession. Once the game got underway there was only ever going to be one winner in the game and, after good early pressure, Shelbourne were in the lead after 14 minutes when David McAllister finished to the net with a brilliant left-footed curling strike from all of 25 yards.
Shels would continue to enjoy the majority of possession, and even though the Kildare goal wasn't being bombarded like most people might have been expecting, it never looked likely that Dean Delaney would be called into action. Philly Hughes, who along with Dean Lawrence and Jimmy Kelly was taking care of the team's preparations for this match, almost got through on the 27th minute, but Delaney was quick to come off his line and clear.
The ball eventually found its way up the other end of the pitch, before finding its way to Stephen Quigley on the right-wing, and his cross was met by the lively David Cassidy with the side of his foot and Darren Kelly found himself beaten for the second time. Even at this relatively early stage in the game, it looked like it might become a rout, and sure enough Shels were to get their third goal just five minutes before half-time when Flood headed in at the far post following a well-taken corner by David McGill.
This meant that Shels went in at the break with a comfortable 3-0 lead, and they could have had an even bigger advantage to tell the truth. The second period would continue in much the same vein as the first, with Shels having chance after chance of increasing their lead. The easy-going nature of the tie probably led to some of the misses, and it came as a surprise that the next goal in the game was for the home side. The move for this goal, in the 68th minute, started with a long punt down the field from Liam Tiernan, which was raced onto by striker Trevor Bowers who finished expertly to the back of the net to bring the margin back down to two.
While this will no doubt go down as a sad day for The Thoroughbreds, it was good to see a local boy like Bowers getting the last goal for the club, especially the Kilmeague native has had his troubles with injuries and illness in the past.
This goal was going to make precious little difference to the end result, but the concession of this would no doubt have upset Keely, and it was noticeable that their performance levels increased in the final 20 minutes. Just five short minutes after Bowers' strike, Shelbourne restored their three-goal advantage through a looping Griffiths header from a McAllister cross and, with 12 minutes remaining, Griffiths turned provider as David Cassidy drilled home to register Shelbourne's fifth goal of the evening.
Griffiths very nearly got his second goal when he headed against the crossbar with a minute left, but the ball bounced to safety much to the relief of substitute County 'keeper Sean Geoghegan. This brings to an end a turbulent season for Kildare County, and though this season has been by far the most disappointing of all for the club, there are still plenty of wonderful memories from their seven-year spell in the First Division. As for Shelbourne, they will now go forward to a First Division play-off at Tolka Park against Sporting Fingal on Tuesday to see who faces the losers of the Bray Wanderers/Drogheda United game from the top-flight.
Kildare County: Darren Kelly (Sean Geoghegan '61); Keith Walsh, Craig Purcell (Pierce O'Connor '84), Davy Byrne, Liam Tiernan; David Jackson, Cathal Brady (John Cashin '84), Darren O'Brien, Christy Doran; Trevor Bowers, Philly Hughes. Subs not used: Gavin Kinsella, Eoin Powderly.
Shelbourne: Dean Delaney; Stephen Quigley, Michael Synnott, Robbie Hedderman, Damien Brennan; Mark O'Brien (Tony Griffiths h/t), David McGill, David Cassidy, Derek Doyle, Anthony Flood (Colin O'Brien h/t), David McAllister (Ray Scully '77). Subs not used: David Crawley, Vinny Whelan.
Referee: Sean Grant (Wexford).
Extratime.ie player-of-the-match: David McAllister (Shelbourne) – Has had an excellent season in front of goal, and continued that tonight with a stunning opener, and he continued to a menacing presence until his withdrawal in the final quarter.