Date: 8 p.m. April 15, 2011
Venue: Tolka Park
The Reds got off to a great start, with David Cassidy scoring after just three minutes. Philly Hughes did well down the right side of the Monaghan penalty area to find the space for a pass to Cassidy. All that remained for Cassidy to do was stroke the ball low past the outstretched and out-of-place Gabriel Sava from close to the penalty spot for his fourth league goal of the season.
Shels could have had a second goal two minutes later, Hughes again setting up Cassidy, who this time struck the crossbar with a powerful strike. After that, the game became an increasingly open one. Paul Whelan had a half chance for Monaghan after 19 minutes, his close range shot deflecting just wide for a corner. Just before the half hour mark Whelan was booked after a scuffle with Shels captain David McGill.
After their strong start, Shels allowed their opponents back into the match gradually. Declan O'Brien rounded Shels 'keeper Dean Delany on 33 minutes, but his shot ended up coming off his own player and bobbling wide for a goal kick. O'Brien did well to win the ball in several aerial challenges and flick the ball on, but Mons couldn't connect possession with shots on target.
That all changed just before half time though. After a fine Monaghan passing move, the ball came to Sean Brennan in a central position on the edge of the Shels box. Brennan looked up and struck the ball low and hard past Dean Delany, whose vision was somewhat blocked, to cap a superb Mons attacking move.
The home side emulated their start to the first half with a strong start in the second. After 48 minutes, their lead was restored through winger Brendan McGill. On the counter, David Cassidy found McGill with a superb pinpoint cross. McGill nudged ahead of his marker, amid suspicions of offside, to flick the ball past Gabriel Sava. The first half became a mirror image of the first though, with the Reds quickly relinquishing their upper hand in the possession stakes.
Kevin Dawson could have extended the Shels lead on 54 minutes, hitting the inside of the Mons crossbar, but it was Mons who were to score next. On 67 minutes, some slack Shelbourne defending let John Reilly have too much space down the side of the Reds penalty area. Reilly strolled closer in to the Shels goal before crossing to Brennan, who had an easy tap in to score.
Monaghan had much of the play afterwards, and took the lead with 13 minutes remaining. More sloppy Shels defending let Declan O'Brien in alone on Dean Delany, and Fabio coolly lobbed a bouncing ball over the Shels 'keeper for 3-2. Monaghan wanted to keep the ball and see the match out, but a frantic end to the match made for heart-in-mouth viewing. Lorcan Fitzgerald hit the crossbar with a 30 yard shot with three minutes left, and Shels almost scored on the rebound. The match grew even more frantic, and in added time, Declan O'Brien received a second yellow card for holding back Colm James. Monaghan held out though, and came away from Tolka Park with what could be a very valuable win.
Shelbourne: Dean Delany; Ian Ryan, Barry Clancy, Andy Boyle, Lorcan Fitzgerald; Kevin Dawson, David McGill [ Colm James '88], David Cassidy, Brendan McGill, Conan Byrne [Karl Bermingham '73]; Philip Hughes.
Subs not used: Paul Skinner, Sean Byrne, Gareth Matthews, Ray Scully, John Sullivan.
Monaghan United: Gabriel Sava; Paul Whelan, Shane Grimes, Conor McMahon, Aidan Collins; Eric Foley, John Reilly, Ryan Brennan, Sean Brennan [Shane Fitzgerald '90], Jason Marks; Declan O'Brien
Subs not used: Dom Tierney, Michael Isichei, Philip Byrne, Jake Rossiter, Jimmy Fallon, Andy Haran.
Referee: Phil Caschera.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Sean Brennan.