A late John Martin goal rescued three points for the Lilywhites in a fixture where tempers flared at Oriel Park. The Lilywhites edging out the Reds 2-1.
This was almost a real game of two halves. The fixtures came alive at the end of a tepid first half, devoid of any moments of brilliance, when the Reds saw red, seconds before the half-time whistle.
Shane Griffin was sent off for a second yellow. Damien Duff was given yellow number one and two and sent off for his complaints from the sideline.
It was to prove a real turning point as the second half had a real needle and tempo to it, albeit without much real quality from either side.
Prior to that; with five minutes of the half remaining, Dundalk had gotten two yellow cards in quick succession. Paul Doyle was booked and Patrick Hoban landed a yellow for his protests amidst some handbags.
As the red mist descended, it looked like it would play into Shels’ hands. A riled up Mark Connolly, allowed a ball to go over his head as he jostled with Griffin, allowing Daniel Carr to swan into the box to gift Shelbourne their best chance of the half. Fortunately for Stephen O’Donnell’s side, Carr couldn’t convert.
Dundalk were on top in terms of possession but without fashioning many guilt edge chances. Greg Sloggett took a fine ball down in the box early on but couldn’t pull the trigger. Steven Bradley did manage to test Brendan Clarke with a snap shot, but the Shels custodian was equal to the danger.
Hoban nearly rubbed salt in the wounds of the visitor’s when his free kick from Griffin’s red, fizzed narrowly wide. It was to be the last action of the half.
The second half opened with a bang with Dundalk piling on the pressure at first, but the Reds fought their way back and almost nicked a goal on the counter attack ten minutes after the restart and had a penalty shout turned down on 50 minutes.
Parity would be soon be restored after another spate of cards. Sloggett picked up a yellow before Shane Farrell was yellow carded and then, after consultation between the officials Bradley received his marching orders.
Dundalk’s numerical advantage at the start of the half, undone with an hour to go.
Oriel Park was a cauldron after all of that. Daniel Kelly helped ease tensions when he converted from Paul Doyle’s cross to put the home side deservedly in front. But the man in the middle would be centre stage once more with ten minutes remaining, when he awarded a penalty.
Paul McLaughlin seemed to have dismissed John Wilson’s penalty claim, before pointing at the spot. The travelling Shels supporters got a good view of Farrell’s conversion to level the game and smooth over any grievances they may have had up to that point.
Not for the first time this season, it looked like Dundalk were going to surrender two points to Shelbourne courtesy of a late penalty.
Shels made three subs in the second half and Dundalk four as they chased a now helter skelter game that threatened to go either way.
Perhaps a few eyebrows were raised at the subbing of Hoban for John Martin with six minutes left to play, but any qualms were squashed when Martin scored with his first touch of the game three minutes after his introduction, to put Dundalk back into the lead. Needless to say Oriel erupted.
The five minutes of additional time must have felt like an eternity for Dundalk fans, as Shels peppered the box in the hope of one final chance – but it wasn’t to be. Dundalk’s good home record held out against Shels’ impressive away one.
Dundalk: Nathan Shepperd; Mark Connolly, Andy Boyle, Darragh Leahy, Lewis Macari (David McMillan 83); Paul Doyle (Sam Bone 74), Steven Bradley, Greg Sloggett (Keith Ward 54); Joe Adams, Patrick Hoban (John Martin 83), Daniel Kelly.
Subs not used: Peter Cherrie, Mayowa Animasahun, John Mountney, Ryan O'Kane, Mark Hanratty.
Booked: Paul Doyle (40), Patrick Hoban (41), Greg Sloggett (53), Mark Connolly (67).
Sent off: Steven Bradley (56).
Shelbourne: Brendan Clarke; Shane Griffin, Luke Byrne, Conor Kane (Sean Boyd 70), Aaron O'Driscoll, John Ross Wilson; Shane Farrell, Aodh Dervin (Jordan McEneff 78), Mark Coyle, Jack Moylan; Daniel Carr (Kameron Ledwidge 46).
Subs not used: Lewis Webb, Gavin Molloy, Adam Thomas, JJ Lunney, Stanley Anaebonam, Jad Hakiki.
Booked: Shane Griffin (19) ,Aodh Dervin (40), Shane Griffin (45) ,Shane Farrell (56).
Sent off: Shane Griffin (45), Damien Duff (45).
Referee: Paul McLaughlin.
extratime.com Player of the Match: Mark Connolly
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