Date: 7:30 p.m. April 9, 2011
Venue: Athlone Town Stadium
Ref: Sean Grant
Att: 300 (est)
The home side made two changes to the side that had lost the midland derby last week, bringing in captain Kevin Williamson – returning from suspension – and fit again Gary Higgins, in place of Robbie Murray and Colm Smith. Shels, once again, fielded an unchanged team.
The visitors made their intentions clear right from the kick-off, as they took the game to Athlone, mounting a series of attacks on Michael Schlingermann’s goal. Hughes and Cassidy combined well each setting the other up on a number of occasions, although neither were able to apply the finishing touch. The Town played the lively Gary Higgins up front on his own and limited themselves to hitting long balls towards him whenever they won possession. However the Reds' centre halves, Stephen Paisley and Andy Boyle, managed to deal with this tactic comfortably. The closest Higgins went was a header over the bar on 22 minutes, after he himself had done the donkey-work in winning a corner.
The Reds had a penalty shout four minutes later when captain Dave McGill went down in the area, but referee Sean Grant ignored his claims. Meanwhile his namesake Brendan MGill was becoming more influential, raiding down the left wing and getting the ball into the area. On 37 minutes it paid off when he found the unmarked Conan Byrne about ten yards off the back post who applied an easy finish to open the scoring.
Shelbourne continued to press home their advantage coming up to half time and the Town had Michael Schlingermann to thank for two superb reflex saves, one from Boyle and another from Philly Hughes, which kept the score respectable going into the break.
The second half was only two minutes old when Byrne, with a solo run down the right, broke through and doubled the visitors lead with a fine finish. This effectively put the result beyond doubt and Athlone looked to be in further trouble when their sole attacking option, Gary Higgins, picked up a knock and had to be replaced. But credit to Mike Kerley’s youngsters, they didn’t drop their heads and with nothing more to lose, they then discovered their footballing ability and put together some decent attacks.
Athlone number nine Niall Scullion now looked to be the danger man and on 70 minutes he hit a low hard drive from thirty yards out that was only inches wide. Five minutes later, up at the other end, Byrne was unlucky not to get his hat-trick when he worked his way clear on goal only for the keeper to reach the ball first.
The home side’s spirited response then came undone when they were reduced to ten men. Brian Gill was forced off with an injury, Mike Kerley having already used the three substitutes allowed. Hughes made it three for the Reds on 88 minutes, again after some great work by McGill on the left and Chris Mulhall rounded-off the night for the visitors when he slotted home from a one-two with Byrne deep into injury time.
Athlone Town: Michael Schlingermann; Joe Woods, Jamie Carr, Tommy Barrett, Paul Danaher; Stephen Relihan, Kevin Williamson (Bobby Tier 72), Brian Gill, Niall Scullion, Brendan Daly (Ian Sweeney 46); Gary Higgins (Colm Smith 54).
Subs not used: Alex Gardiner, Scott Gaynor, Roy King, Darren Young
Yellow Cards: Gill (28), Danagher (82).
Shelbourne: Dean Delany; Ian Ryan, Barry Clancy (Chris Mulhall 77), Andy Boyle, Stephen Paisley (Lorcan Fitzgerald 46); Kevin Dawson (Colm James 62), David McGill, David Cassidy, Conan Byrne, Brendan McGill; Philip Hughes.
Subs Not Used: Ray Scully, Sean Byrne, Karl Bermingham, Paul Skinner.
Yellow Cards: None.
Joint Men of the Match: Brendan McGill & Conan Byrne.
Referee: Sean Grant.
Attendance: 300 estimated.