After making a tradition out of falling at the last hurdle since their demotion in 2007, Shelbourne at last secured promotion back to the Premier Division with a sublime 4-0 win over Finn Harps tonight at Tolka Park.
Shels got out of the starting blocks quickly, with Ian Ryan scoring after four minutes. A Phillip Hughes goal just before half time gave Shels a 2-0 lead at the break. Goals in the second half from David Cassidy and substitute Conan Byrne sealed the win.
The win means that five years after they last appeared in the top flight, Shels can now return to take their place amongst Ireland's footballing elite again. Ian Ryan gave the home side the perfect start after just four minutes.
A lobbed ball down the left wing for Barry Clancy resulted in a Shels corner, which David Cassidy took. Cassidy's precise delivery found Ian Ryan, whose glancing header sent the ball looping over the outstretched Ciaran Gallagher.
Shels controlled play for most of the first half, with Harps having sporadic possession and never really threatening. Philly Hughes and David Cassidy both had clear chances in the 17th and 20th minutes, respectively, to double the lead.
Philly Hughes did double the lead eventually though, just before half time. Ian Ryan again played a big part, this time in the build-up. Hughes stooped low in front of goal to head the ball past Gallagher from Ryan's pinpoint cross.
Harps had a few half-chances at the start of the second half, but Kevin Devaney's 50th minute free-kick which Dean Delany easily pushed wide was the closest they came. If there were still nerves in the home support, they were well and truly soothed with captain David Cassidy's well-worked 64th minute goal.
In a move that looked like it came straight from the training ground, Philly Hughes took a free-kick 30 yards from goal short- passing to Stephen Paisley. With his back to goal, Paisley squared the ball for the on-rushing Cassidy, who calmly slotted the ball in.
Substitute Conan Byrne, making just his second appearance since recovering from an injury which ruled him out for a month, made sure of the win on 72 minutes. With his first touch, Byrne beat Harps 'keeper Gallagher to the ball inside the box. The midfielder had to be alert to finish the rebounding ball after it came off the post.
With the five-year exile from the Premier Division now set to end, Shels can look forward to Saturday's title clash with Cork City and an FAI Cup final against Sligo Rovers on November 6th.
Shelbourne: Dean Delany; Ian Ryan, Sean Byrne, Andy Boyle, Stephen Paisley [Gareth Matthews '66]; John Sullivan, Kevin Dawson, Barry Clancy [Conan Byrne '70], Brendan McGill, David Cassidy (c); Phillip Hughes [Chris Mulhall '74].
Subs Not Used: Paul Skinner, Karl Bermingham, Phillip Gorman, Davi Da Silva.
Yellow Cards: Barry Clancy.
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher; Marty Redmond [James Doherty '70], Keith Cowan, Aaron O’Hagan [Packie Mailey HT], JP Gallagher, Kevin Devaney, Gary Curran, Barry O’Mahoney, Gareth Harkin [Kevin McHugh HT], Stephen O'Donnell, Blaine Curtis.
Subs Not Used: Aaron Brennan, Marc Brolly, Sean Catton, Mark Forker.
Yellow Cards: None.
Referee: Rob Rogers.
Attendance: 1027 (official).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Ian Ryan.