Colmán Stanley reports from Tolka Park
Shelbourne were the victors after a dominant 3-0 win over strugglers Wexford on a chilly Friday night at Tolka Park, as they continue to make up for a poor start to the season.
The visitors’ goal difference slipped to minus-14 after only four games as Darragh Noone, Ryan Brennan and Dan Byrne all found the net for the home side.
Shelbourne went into Friday’s game with a slight air disappointment surrounding their season so far, despite only lying second in the table, and only three points behind Bray Wanderers.
It was the perfect opportunity to capitalise on the momentum gained from last Friday’s 2-0 victory over third-placed Athlone Town with Wexford lying at the bottom of the table.
Manager Ian Morris has made only one change to the starting team from that victory, with Dan Byrne coming into the defence as a late replacement for Luke Byrne.
With a minus-11 goal difference, coming off the back of a 6-1 loss to Cobh Ramblers, and up against a Shelbourne side with a point to prove, the fixture looked ominous from the get go for the men from the south-east.
Their big hope was the return from suspension of record goal scorer and star striker Danny Furlong, who was one of four changes made from the match versus Cobh last Saturday.
Sean Callan, Darragh O’Connor, and Danny Doyle were also brought into the team by manager Brian O’Sullivan.
Wexford started well and their best chance of the half came after only three minutes when Sean Callan was able to get on the end of a corner and force a great reactive save from Dean Delany.
John Ross Wilson almost opened the scoring for the home side but his poor effort went wide after a penetrating run into the box.
Shels began to dominate the game from then on and the crowd thought Oscar Brennan had scored when his low shot from 25 yards forced a brilliant diving save from Joseph Walshe.
Soon after, a delicately weighted cross from Conan Byrne from the right hand side of the box nearly lead to the game’s first goal.
Ciarán Kilduff rose the highest at the near post to meet the cross, but his header, which had the keeper beaten, hit the post and the danger was cleared.
Shels would have another excellent chance three minutes from time. The ball bobbled around the box after a free kick but Ryan Brennan couldn’t get a clean strike and Walshe saved his team again.
The breakthrough came just five minutes into the second half when a ball was played into the box and laid back to Darragh Noone twenty yards out.
The midfielder took his time and put a well-placed and composed finish into the top corner to ease whatever nerves the home support may have had.
Shels got their second ten minutes later when Karl Moore got the ball near the end line while Kilduff and Ryan Brennan were left completely unmarked in the box.
All Moore had to do was pass it into Kilduff who left it nicely for Brennan to smash one into the top corner.
Shelbourne pushed and pushed for a third, and Dan Byrne duly delivered with a powerful header into the top corner.
It was a disappointing second half for Wexford as they offered next to nothing and were lucky that they only conceded three.
Shelbourne: Dean Delany, Dan Byrne, Lorcan Fitzgerald, Derek Prendergast, John Ross Wilson, Ryan Brennan (Dayle Rooney 72), Oscar Brennan, Conan Byrne, Karl Moore, Darragh Noone (Daniel McKenna 92), Ciarán Kilduff (James English 89).
Subs not used: Colin McCabe (gk), Luke Byrne, Aidan Friel, Sean Quinn.
Wexford: Joseph Walshe, Paddy Cahill (Nike Arevadze 80), Sean Callan, Lee Costello (Owen McCormack 85), Darragh O’Connor, Jack Doherty, Liam McCartan, Emmet Nugent, Danny Doyle (Sean Kelly 80), Danny Furlong, Ryan Nolan.
Subs not used: Corey Chambers (gk), Thomas Croke.
Booked: Lee Costello.
Referee: David Keeler.
Attendance: 848 (official).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Darragh Noone (Shelbourne).