Andrew Dempsey reports from Tolka Park
On a fine Spring evening, a hat-trick from Shelbourne’s Adam Evans and a four-goal salvo from David O’Sullivan saw Shelbourne ease past a poor Athlone Town side at Tolka Park by a score-line of 7-0.
After a rather quiet opening start to proceedings at Tolka Park, James English saw his well struck effort sting the hands of Athlone Town netminder Nathan Murphy.
He parried the ball right into the path of Athlone's worst nightmare, O’Sullivan, who made no mistake in poking home from just three yards out to put Owen Heary’s side into the lead.
From there, Athlone’s defence became more and more exposed as Shelbourne began strutting their stuff against a rather limited Town, with the scale of the task rising ever so much with each passing minute of the game.
Shels doubled their lead just on the half hour mark as Murphy was left red-faced after making a mistake that saw Adam Evans pop in with his first of three goals of the night.
With the game already looking well and truly finished from an outcome perspective, a flurry of Shelbourne shots on target seriously troubled the Athlone Town back line.
O’Sullivan and James O’Brien both saw their respective tame efforts dealt with by some frantic Athlone Town defending.
Evans made it three after some sterling work by James English down the right-hand side of the Tolka Park pitch.
Murphy was once again caught in no man’s land in his own six-yard box as the motivated Evans powered home from very close range.
With the game ebbing out at the end of the first half thanks to a mental twenty-minute spell, further drama was yet to come as Aaron Callaghan saw himself being dismissed after a verbal altercation with the fourth official.
After consultation the referee, who deemed the former Bohemians boss guilty, he was sent to the stands for the rest of the game.
The second half began as the first half finished as Shelbourne continued their complete and utter dominance with the Shelbourne front three running the show in the face of an incredibly lascksidasical Athlone Town rear-guard.
Shelbourne added their fourth goal of the game four minutes after the break as O’Sullivan slotted the ball home past a despairing Murphy dive in the Athlone goal as James English delivered the goods for the in-form O’Sullivan's benefit.
It was about to get even worse for Town as Dayle Rooney fought his way brilliantly through a stiff defensive wall before firing his well-struck cross into the six-yard box, and Evans was on hand to complete his first hat-trick of the season.
Unfortunately for Aaron Callaghan’s side, Shelbourne were not finished as O’Sullivan finally got his routine hat-trick against Athlone Town, slotting home from twelve yards out after Ger Smyth tripped English in the penalty area.
To their credit, Athlone did create some more opporrtunies than normal after O’Sullivan dispatched of his penalty with on-loan Dundalk youngster Jake O’Connor and the lively Brian Carabally both seeing their tame efforts roll rather aimlessly wide of Dean Delany’s goal.
With time running out for Shelbourne to equal their biggest league victory of 9-0 against Bray Pioneers and Bray Unknowns, O’Sullivan was on hand to put the icing on the cake for Owen Heary’s side as he dispatched his fourth, and Shelbourne’s seventh, of the game deep into stoppage time to the dismay of James English who was very eager to get his name on the score-sheet for the Reds.
All in all, it was a comfortable, convincing win for Shelbourne who substantially improved their goal difference with a heavy beating of the league’s whipping boys.
Owen Heary’s side climb up to second in the table while Athlone Town will once again be left licking their wounds after another difficult night for the Midlander’s.
Shelbourne: Dean Delany; James Brown, Lorcan Fitzgerald, Aidan Collins (Alan Byrne 51), Arran Molloy; James O’Brien (Cian Kavanagh 70), Adam Evans, Gavin Boyne, Dayle Rooney (Shane Farrell 65), James English, David O’Sullivan
Subs not used: James Woods, Dylan Grimes, Jamie Doyle, Lee Steacy.
Booked: None .
Sent Off: None.
Athlone Town: Nathan Murphy; Daniel O’Donovan, Ger Smyth, Craig Shortt, Josh Hogan (Ollie Hamzat 45+2), Ian Fletcher, Jake O’Connor, Robbie O’Leary, Martin Walshe (Brian Carabally 73), Darren Kavanagh (Rory McCullough 46), Shane Stokes
Subs not used: Steve Grogan, George Mukete, Cormac Raftery, Shaun O’Donnell.
Booked: None .
Sent Off: None.
Referee: Damien MacGraith.
Attendance: 667 (official),
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Adam Evans (Shelbourne).