Owen Heary will be a disappointed figure as his Shelbourne side slipped to a 1-0 defeat at home to Cobh Ramblers as an early second-half goal from Karl Caulfield proved the difference.
Shelbourne had most of the possession in what was a cagey opening, but despite this though it was the away side who created the first opportunity.
A long ball from the back was nodded down by centre forward Matthew Whelan to the foot of Caulfield, who took a moment to steady himself before shooting. His effort was blocked out for a corner off Derek Prendergast.
Shels had a penalty appeal waved away a few minutes later when it appeared James English had been shoved in the area, but after a moment of consideration referee John McLoughlin decided to let play continue.
Stephen Henderson’s men came dangerously close after half an hour as Craig Donnellan’s deep cross from the right flank was met by the head Whelan, but his looping header was tipped over superbly by Dean Delaney.
That would be the last chance the Munster side would fashion in the first half, as the home side began to regain a foothold in the game and create some opportunities of their own.
Shels midfielder James O’Brien sent English through with a lovely disguised through ball but the forward took too much time to pick his spot and his shot was blocked away by Cian Kingston.
They really should have taken the lead with under ten minutes remaining in the half, but they were denied by a sublime double save from Ramblers keeper Paul Hunt.
Firstly, English met Adam Evans' cross with a strong header which was parried away by the former Longford Town keeper, before who then got up quickly to tip Dayle Rooney’s follow-up onto the post.
Shels defender Aidan Collins spurned a great chance moments later, when a corner from Evans was headed down into his path by English, but Collins could only volley over from 12 yards.
English would have one final chance before the break when he collected the ball outside the Cobh box before subsequently running at the Cobh backline and slicing his shot wide.
Despite Shelbourne’s dominance at the end of the first period, it was the visitors who came out of the blocks quickest in the second half.
They took the lead just five minutes after the restart when Karl Caulfield latched onto a pass from Charlie Fleming on the edge of the area before superbly chipping the into the far corner over a helpless Dean Delaney.
Cobh began to become more comfortable and slick with their play from that point, while Shels went in search of an equaliser.
Shels had a goal disallowed on the hour mark when Hunt picked a long ball out of the sky and collided with James English before dropping the ball at the forward's feet. English tapped it in and was incensed when the referee blew for a free in the other direction.
Keeper Hunt stayed down for a few moments and seemed to be in some distress, but he eventually got back to his feet and continued on after a spot of treatment.
The Rams didn’t really create many clear-cut chances after the goal, despite an increase in their possession. They came close when Ian Mylod’s free kick took a deflection off the wall and needed to be tipped over by Delaney.
Shels really began to press for an equaliser and, with ten minutes to go, they had a golden opportunity when the ball fell to Jackson Ryan in the area, but he fired over from six yards.
Cobh had the chance to kill off the game when a wayward back pass from Ryan was collected by Whelan. The striker went one-on-one with Delaney, but it was the former Bohemians shot stopper who emerged victorious.
The home side's task got even more difficult when they were reduced to ten men after James English received a straight red card for a late tackle on Mylod.
They kept pushing however, but the Ramblers rear-guard wasn’t faltering. Mark Hughes tried his luck with a ferocious strike from 25 yards, but Hunt was equal to it.
With one last roll of the die, it was Aidan Collins who the last chance fell to as he connected with O’Leary’s corner, unfortunately for him and the home support however, his header lopped over the bar.
It was a frustrating evening for Owen Heary and his troops, and he’ll be looking to put this one behind him ahead of the trip to Waterford next Friday night.
A valuable three points however for Stephen Henderson. The win puts Cobh at the summit for the first time this season and he’ll want to keep it that way and keep their momentum going when they face Athlone next week.
Shelbourne: Dean Delaney; Aiden Collins, Derek Prendergast, Reece McEnteer, Adam O’Connor; Mark Hughes; Dale Rooney (Jackson Ryan 73), David O’Leary, James O’Brien (Adam Ashe 61), Adam Evans; James English.
Subs not used: Jamie Quinn (gk); Jack Tuite; Niall Lanigan, Dylan Grimes, Lorcan Shannon.
Booked: Dayle Rooney (52).
Sent Off: James English (84).
Cobh Ramblers: Paul Hunt; Charlie Fleming, Cian Coleman, Cian Kingston, Chris McCarthy, Ian Mylod; Ross Mann, Craig Donnellan, Karl Caulfield, Stephen Christopher; Matthew Whelan.
Subs not used: Michael Sadys (gk); Ben O’Riordan, Shane Lowth; Kyle McNamara, Scott McCarthy, Darren Murphy; Dean Swords.
Booked: Cian Coleman (23), McCarthy (48).
Referee: John McLoughlin.
Attendance: 474 (official)
Extratime.ie Man of The Match: Paul Hunt (Cobh Ramblers)