2020 Season Preview: Shelbourne

Mon, Feb 10 2020

Manager: Ian Morris

Stadium: Tolka Park

Players In: Gary Deegan (Cambridge United), Jack Brady (Limerick), Aaron Dobbs (Longford Town), Karl Sheppard (Cork City), Daniel O’Reilly (Finn Harps), Georgie Poynton (Waterford).

Players Out: Conan Byrne (Glenavon), John Ross Wilson (Bray Wanderers), Derek Prendergast (Drogheda United), Craig Giles (Wexford), James English (Longford Town), Alan Byrne (St. Mochta), Gregory Moorhouse (Glenavon), Darragh Noone (Sligo Rovers), Reece McEnteer (Unattached), Dean Delany (Retired), Flavio Marku (Unattached).

Extratime.ie Key Man: Karl Sheppard

The number one priority without shadow of a doubt for Shelbourne this season will be to maintain their top-flight status and one of the essential ingredients will be Premier Division experience.

In Karl Sheppard they have in their arsenal one of the most revered players in the domestic game over the past decade.

In addition to his two SSE Airtricity Premier Division winners and two FAI Cup winners’ medals, Sheppard has a wealth of creativity and awareness on the pitch that could prove to be invaluable for Ian Morris’ charges in the coming season ahead.

The 28-year-old eagerly signed for the Drumcondra outfit when his contract with Cork City expired and would still have a huge amount to offer and the possibility of linking up with striker Ciaran Kilduff is an exciting prospect for Shels fans.

Sheppard could provide the ammunition needed to keep Shels among the elite and could also be a calming influence on the younger players in the dressing room.

Extratime.ie Key Man: Georgie Poynton

The 22-year-old is an exciting talent with a huge amount of potential and may get that opportunity to realise this at Tolka Park. Poynton was snapped up by Shels following his release from Waterford at the end of last season.

He came through the under-20 ranks at Dundalk before forcing his way into the Lilywhites senior squad and has also had spells at Bohemians and St. Patrick’s Athletic.

He has also been capped by the Republic of Ireland at u-16, u-17 and u-19 level playing 18 times and scoring 2 goals.

His main position is in central midfield where he can pull the strings but is versatile and can also ply his trade as an attacking midfielder or as a dynamic right-back offering Ian Morris another option.


How they did last season:


Shelbourne romped to the SSE Airtricity First Division league title and ended their wait to dine at the top table for the first time since the 2013 season.

Ian Morris’ men made an inconsistent start to the campaign with 3 wins and 3 defeats in their first 6 league matches but 3 wins from their next 4 had Shels right back in contention again.

Two more defeats cast further doubt on their promotion prospects but the Drumcondra side bounced back superbly to record 8 consecutive wins to push themselves to the summit of the SSE Airtricity First Division.

Three more wins left them with securing the title with 2 games to spare with a win over Bray Wanderers at Tolka Park but they could only manage a 0-0 draw and exacerbate the frayed nerves of the Drumcondra faithful.

Shels clinched promotion and the league title in their penultimate fixture with an impressive 3-1 away win against Drogheda United and rounded off the league in style by trouncing Limerick 7-0 in front of a rapturous home crowd at Tolka Park.

FAI Cup:

Shelbourne fell at the first hurdle of the FAI Cup having lost an epic encounter 3-2 against bitter rivals Bohemians at Dalymount Park.

Shels looked to be home and hosed with just 5 minutes of normal time remaining leading 2-0 thanks to goals from Ciaran Kilduff and Shane Farrell, however, there was to be a stunning twist in the tale when Jaze Kabia received his marching orders on 83 minutes.

It was the catalyst for a miraculous comeback by Bohs who pegged Shels back to 2-2 with goals from Keith Buckley and Daniel Grant and then there were scenes of jubilation when Daniel Mandroiu grabbed the winner in injury time.

EA Sports Cup:

Ian Morris’ side negotiated a potentially tricky first round tie against Bluebell United. It proved to live up to its billing and Shels were pushed all the way scraping their way into the next round with a 1-0 win thanks to Daniel Mc Kenna’s goal midway through the first half.

The draw for the 2nd round paired Shels in a Dublin derby against Premier Division side UCD at Tolka Park. Shelbourne made the perfect start taking the lead after just 2 minutes through Derek Prendergast but UCD recovered from that setback and drew level just before the half hour.

The game was evenly poised and both sides went in search of the decisive goal but the home fan’s hearts were broken when Timmy Molloy booked the Student’s passage into the next round with a last minute winner.


What to expect this season:

There is a sense of renewed optimism and positivity around Shelbourne ahead of the 2020 season having jettisoned the milestone of getting promoted from around their necks.

Ian Morris’s main objective this season will be survival and Shels have made some shrewd signings in the off season particularly in the form of ex-Cork City playmaker Karl Sheppard who knows what it takes to compete in the top division and could be pivotal in creating enough chances for Ciaran Kilduff to get on the end of.

Shels have also secured the signature of journeyman Gary Deegan having departed Bohemians at the age of 22 for then Championship side Coventry City and his experience could prove to be invaluable to the squad.  

There’s also sprinkling of youthful exuberance added to the squad in the form of exciting midfielder Georgie Poynton and former Shamrock Rovers striker Aaron Dobbs.

If Shelbourne can make Tolka Park a fortress this season and Sheppard and Kilduff establish a rapport early on then Shels fans could have justification for loftier ambitions this season.


Title Odds: 50/1.

First Game: Cork City (Away).