League Report: Dundalk 3 - 2 Shelbourne

Fri, Sep 11 2020

Greg Sloggett and Michael Duffy celebrate Dundalk taking the lead against Shelbourne on Friday night Credit: Clare McCahill (ETPhotos)

David Wilson reports from Oriel Park

A deserted Oriel Park greeted Filippo Giovagnoli as the Italian took charge of his first league game at home to Shelbourne.

Goals, including stunners from Michael Duffy and Gregg Sloggett either side of a Brian Gartland header gave the Italian his first three points as Dundalk manager as the Lilywhites beat the Reds 3-2 at the Louth venue.

Giovagnoli made a somewhat surprising decision to give Aaron McCarey a start in goal while dropping club legend Gary Rogers to the bench.

Sean Gannon also remained benched, while the unfortunate Patrick McEleney pulled up in the warm-up with Sean Murray deputising for the Derry-man. Will Patching was added to the substitute bench.

Shelbourne arrived in Oriel off the back of an unbeaten four game run which has propelled the Reds into sixth position and away from the dreaded bottom two.

The home side started lightning quick. Five minutes in Duffy received the ball on the left wing, drifted inside past both Georgie Poynton and Gary Deegan before unleashing a hellish effort which rocketed past Colin McCabe in Shelbourne goal. A marvellous goal which would have sent the Shed into raptures in a non-Covid setting.

Just six minutes later, Darragh Leahy found Duffy with a clipped pass in behind Poynton before an attempted cross was deflected for a corner. The resulting corner, taken by Serbian Stefan Colovic, was whipped right onto the head of Gartland who thundered his header into the ground and past McCabe..

The Lilywhites were purring, enthused by a two-week break, they continued to play quickly and positively. Sloggett and Sean Murray both played high in a central midfield three as they looked to pin Shels in their own defensive third.

As we have seen with Dundalk off the field, football can change in an instant. Down the Shelbourne left, a deft ball was played in behind Gartland who struggled to turn and keep pace with the marauding Alex O’Hanlon.

Sean Hoare came back to help his defensive partner but only sought to foul O’Hanlon and a free kick was given.

Poynton whipped in a gorgeous delivery from near the corner flag right on to the head of Dan Byrne who powered his header beyond Aaron McCarey and suddenly the away side were back in it.

Just three minutes later a corner from the right was delivered towards the Dundalk six-yard box. A shrill blast of the whistle saw Paul McLaughlin point to the spot as he accused Gartland of pushing ex-teammate Ciaran Kilduff.

Another ex-Dundalk player, Poynton stepped up and duly dispatched the penalty beyond McCarey low to the bottom left corner.

Somehow the away side found themselves level in an instant when they once looked like they could be on hand for a drubbing.

Shels grew in confidence as the half wore on, as Dundalk looked shell shocked. Just before the half hour mark, McCabe cleaned out Leahy in the six-yard box as the home side screamed for a penalty, but referee McLaughlin waved away protests.

Perhaps the most interesting thing to happen in the lead up to the half was the injured Patrick Hoban showing Sean Gannon footage of the questionable penalty incident in which Shels were awarded a penalty. There was a sense of infuriation written across the Galwegians face.

The second half started in a similar vein to the first with the Lilywhites in the ascendency. Colovic sprung in behind before directing a cross to the back stick where Duffy could not stretch his leg enough to add to his tally.

Just before the hour mark Sloggett dispossessed Sean Quinn in a dangerous area, before unleashing a bullet into the top corner. Another impressive strike to add to the night’s collection.

Immediately following the goal, Karl Sheppard and Mark Byrne were summoned from the bench as Shels searched for another equaliser.

Six minutes after coming on, perennial thorn in the side of Dundalk, Karl Sheppard was left completely unmarked at the back post following a dinked cross from the left. Somehow, he could only guide his header beyond the far post in Shelbourne’s best chance of the second half.

Shels huffed and puffed as they tried to test McCarey in the Dundalk goal as the Lilywhites looked to play on the break. Nathan Oduwa and Dan Kelly were brought on to add flair and pace with Kelly looking lively.

There was a sense of old Italian familiarity as the clock ticked towards 90, as Sean Gannon was brought on for Duffy in a defensively minded substitution.

Gannon nearly made an instant impact as Kelly pulled the ball back from the by-line to the full back who just could not get enough power on his effort as McCabe tipped the ball away from danger.

In the end it was two moments of class from Duffy and Sloggett that was the difference between the two sides.

Ian Morris will be pleased with his sides willingness to fight for the cause and put it up to the current league champions.

For Giovagnoli and co. the victory will hopefully give a side which is lacking in confidence some belief as they embark on their Europa League adventure.

Dundalk: Aaron McCarey (GK); Sean Hoare, Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle, Darragh Leahy; Chris Shields ,Gregg Sloggett; Stefan Colovic (Dan Kelly 60), Sean Murray (John Mountney 82), Michael Duffy (Sean Gannon 82); David McMillan (Nathan Oduwa 75).

Subs Not Used: Gary Rogers (GK), Will Patching, Josh Gatt.

Booked: Brian Gartland (23).

Sent-Off: None.

Shelbourne: Colin McCabe (GK); Georgie Poynton, Daniel O’Reilly, Luke Byrne, Alex O’Hanlon; Denzil Fernandes (Karl Sheppard 62), Gary Deegan (C) (Oscar Brennan 87), Sean Quinn, Dayle Rooney (Jaze Kabia 75); Ryan Brennan (Mark Byrne 63); Ciarán Kilduff (Aaron Dobbs 87)

Subs Not Used: Jack Brady (GK), Daniel O’Reilly.

Booked: Luke Byrne (88).

Sent-Off: None.

Attendance: 0

Referee:  Paul McLaughlin.

Extratime.ie man of the match: Chris Shields (Dundalk).