Despite the 0-0 scoreline, Dundalk and Shelbourne played out a highly entertaining match on Good Friday at Oriel Park. Both sides had chances to win it however it was Shels who will feel they should have been out of sight at half-time as they spurned numerous chances in the opening period. Dundalk managed to get a foothold in the game in the
second half and can argue they deserved victory themselves.
It was Shelbourne who had the best of the opening 20 minutes as they dominated possession and looked the more threatening. Brendan McGill had the first shot of note as Peter Cherrie’s weak punch fell to the midfielder. However he shot over from 20 yards.
Dundalk were restricted to counter attacks and Michael Rafter looked the most dangerous as he broke free on the left after 29 minutes but his cross went deep and was cleared. Rafter then caused confusion in the Shels box and forced a corner that would be the closest the hosts came in the opening period as Shels dominated the final 15 minutes.
Sean Byrne had a good shot saved by Cherrie before former Lilywhites Philip Hughes and David Cassidy both nearly grabbed the lead for the visitors. Hughes managed to get free on the right hand side of the box, his shot brilliantly blocked by Liam Burns. The ball though broke to Cassidy who shot just wide of the left hand post.
Then it was Paddy Kavanagh who tested Cherrie from long range with a brilliant drive however the ‘keeper saved well down to his right. Shels had the better chances but the teams went in scoreless at the break.
Soon after the re-start, Dundalk managed their first chance of note. John Mountney crossed from the left wing and his cross was met by Bob McKenna who headed straight at ‘keeper Paul Skinner. Chris Shields then shot over when in a good position before Shels really should have taken the lead. Conan Byrne found acres of space inside the Dundalk
penalty area but his weak shot went well wide.
Anto Murphy shot wide from the edge of the Dundalk box on 67 minutes before Hughes was brilliantly denied by Derek Foran. Dundalk then spurned what was the best chance of the match. Paul Walsh managed to find space and threaded a great ball through to Michael Rafter. Clear in on goal, Rafter’s shot was well saved by Skinner.
Dundalk sustained the pressure and had two penalty appeals turned down before Shels assumed control once more. Pressing hard, they created one chance of note when Cassidy and Hughes combined before Cassidy shot wide. At this point it was end-to-end stuff however neither team could convert the pressure they were exerting.
Both teams appeared to be happy with a point though and decided to sit back and hit the counter attack. In injury-time Dundalk had one final chance to snatch victory but Stephen McDonnell’s free-kick was blocked by the wall.
That proved to be the final chance of the game. After a good first half, Shelbourne will be disappointed that they didn’t take all three points here but in the end, a draw is a fair result.
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; John Mountney, Liam Burns, Derek Foran, Ben McLaughlin; Paul Walsh, Stephen McDonnell, Chris Shields ©, Robert Waters (Peter Thomas 46); Bob McKenna (Gary Shanahan 70), Michael Rafter (Shane O’Neill 76).
Subs Not Used: Ger Hanley (GK), Dan Cunningham, Cian Byrne, Gareth Coughlan.
Booked: Shields (28), Thomas (51).
Shelbourne: Paul Skinner; Brian Shortall, Stephen Paisley, Ian Ryan, Sean Byrne; Conan Byrne (Anto Murphy 62), David Cassidy ©, Kevin Dawson, Brendan McGill; Paddy Kavanagh (Stephen Hurley 81), Philip Hughes.
Subs Not Used: Dean Delany (GK), Gareth Matthews, Lorcan Fitzgerald, Andy Boyle, Philip Gorman.
Booked: Paisley (21), Ryan (21), Cassidy (90+3).
Referee: Rob Rogers.
Extratime.ie man of the match: Derek Foran.