Manager: Eoin Heary
Stadium: Tolka Park
Highest attendance this season: 779 vs Longford (24th February 2017)
Highest league goal scorer: Derek Prendergast (5)
Mid-season position: 6th
How we thought they would do
Before the season began and the news that only one place in the Premier Division for next year was up for grabs, it was apparent that the odds of Shels having an outside chance of promotion had gotten slimmer. We at Extratime.ie had predicted that they would finish in sixth place and so far, they’ve matched the prediction perfectly.
A lowly position for a side who used to be one of the top sides in the country, it was unlikely that their fortunes would change under Owen Heary just yet, especially with the quality of some of the other sides in the division. Sitting third from bottom in the league and with the margin between them and the top sides growing wider, it’s looking like another lacklustre season for the men from Tolka Park.
How they really have done
It’s been a disappointing first half of the season in truth. The 4-0 loss to UCD as well as the 4-1 defeat at the hands of fellow Dublin rivals Cabinteely have been particularly poor displays.
They had to manage a win in their first four games, collecting just two point, before they enjoyed a short resurgence at the end of March and start of April when they put a run of three consecutive wins together, defeating Athlone, Wexford and Cabinteely. But it was very much back to their season opening form after their win over Cabinteely, losing their next four games and collecting a further four points before the mid-season break.
Shels have been quite impotent on the attacking end of the spectrum, scoring the third-lowest amount of goals in the division with 14, and only five players sharing in that tally. Defensively too they’ve been shaky at times too, the aforementioned losses to UCD and Cabinteely highlighting their defensive frailties.
Moment of the season so far
James English’s 87th minute winner against Cabinteely in Stradbrook has been undoubtedly of the higher points of the season for the Tolka Faithful. A last gasp winner which ensured their third win on the bounce made it seem possible that they could make a push up the table again. And the fact that they were dismissing of a Dublin rival away from home made the result all that much sweeter.
Star Player: Adam Evans
Despite the lacklustre season the club are having, Adam Evans has proved to be a bright spot under Owen Heary. The former Burnley trainee has been electrifying down the left wing, notching three goals for his troubles and setting up countless others for his teammates.
His pace and flair has made him a menace down the flank and his ability to blow past any defender before setting up his teammates has been a joy to watch. His careful footwork and ball control sees him regularly wriggle his way out of delicate situations, particularly on the oppositions goal line before picking a pass or shooting himself.
Surprise star player: Derek Prendergast
The veteran defender was expected to be a cool head at the back when he joined from Bohemians at the start of the season, but a potent goal scorer not so much. The centre half is the clubs leading scorer, netting five times so far this campaign, with his aerial threat at both ends of the pitch being crucial at times for his side. Despite their position, Prendergast has come up big at the back for Shels while organising his backline as well as coming across to make some crucial last-ditch tackles.
Young player: Dayle Rooney
The 18-year-old has broken into the first team this term, making ten starts as well as a further appearance off the bench. The winger has found the net twice, including the second goal which sealed the game against Wexford back in March. Pacey and with an eye for goal, Rooney could well grow into an important fixture for this Shels side.
Star signing: Derek Prendergast
This one was a tossup between Prendergast and Dean Delaney, who has also been good in between the sticks, but in the end we've gone with former. The centre-half has popped up at some crucial points, like in the game against Waterford where he scored a brace with his second goal ten minutes from time snatching a point for his side.
What they need to do in the transfer market
Some attacking minded players should definitely be on Owen Heary’s agenda, with James English the only somewhat experience striker in the squad. A quality number nine that could provide some competition for English, whose scored on three occasions this season, would be useful.
A spark in the middle of the park is also something to look at for Shels as their transition from attack to defence hasn’t been so graceful this season. With Alan Byrne at times playing a more advanced role just in front of the defence, perhaps dropping Byrne back into the heart of the defence, and bringing in a creative mind in the centre who could regularly pick out the likes of Adam Evans and Dayle Rooney on the wings could prove fruitful.
Where we see them finishing
With 16 points between them and league leaders Waterford as well as the extremely close chasing pack just behind, it’s unlikely that Shels will make much of an improvement on their current situation. The possibility is definitely there to move up a place, maybe even two depending on how well they come out of the break. It’s unlikely they’ll make too much noise, however it’s also unlikely that they’ll drop to the foot of the table either. A fifth-place finish at best, seventh at worst should they fail to find their feet.