Macdara Ferris reports from Richmond Park
With Damien Duff suspended for the last three games, it was Joey O'Brien calling the shots from the dugout and the dressing room over the last week for Shelbourne.
During that time Shels won all three games, including their first home wins of the season and last Friday’s 2-1 Dublin Derby victory over St. Patrick’s Athletic in Richmond Park. That win was the first for Shels in league action in Richmond Park since 2006.
The former Bolton Wanderers, West Ham United and Shamrock Rovers player can be pleased with that success as he begins his coaching career with Shelbourne but he was ensuring the plaudits went with his team’s players for the victory in Inchicore.
“To come here and play in the second half like that to win the game and win a Dublin derby, it was a great performance by the lads,” said O’Brien.
“I thought we were really good. We had a game a plan coming in. We wanted to really play on the front foot, really squeeze them and put pressure on them. Press them high up the pitch, get turnovers and I felt we did that.”
The victory moved the Reds level with sixth placed Sligo Rovers with the Tolka Park team having a game in hand over the Bit O’ Red who lost their manager on Sunday.
At home on Monday Shels they take on bottom side UCD who lost 3-0 to Shamrock Rovers last time out.
“It is three from three for me but that will be the end of it now as the manager is back for Monday,” said the 36-year-old coach about his stint leading from the dugout due to Duff’s suspension.
The Reds went ahead against the Athletic through a Jack Moylan goal mid-way through the opening half. While O’Brien was disappointed his team conceded from a set-piece in first half injury time, he was pleased with how they didn’t let their heads drop as might have been the case earlier in the league campaign.
"They did us with a second phase set play which we aren't really happy about as the lads are fed up with me telling them how important set plays are.
“We conceded just before half time which was a bit of a killer but the lads were really game in the second half. They settled into it and went on to win which shows the maturity of us as a team.
“Earlier in the season we may have come out in the second half with a bit of a hangover from the set play goal but that wasn't the case this time.”
New season - stranger things
When the team met on the opening night of the season, the Reds suffered a 3-0 reversal at Tolka Park. Duff speaking at the time and O’Brien on Friday, felt the scoreline didn’t reflect Shelbourne’s performance.
“It was a strange game,” said O’Brien about the loss to the Saints on the first night of the new season.
“That night we created a lot of chances against them and we felt we were going to do that again today. We needed to polish up on our defensive positioning and I thought that is what we were really good at today.
“Our structure out of possession was really good. They didn't really cut us open too many times.
“We have been playing well and maybe not just getting the results sometimes. We had a few blips and some games we got turned over like Finn Harps at home [3-0] is one that stands out. As a staff we didn't panic. That was a real outlier. Our performances were good and the lads are getting used to the training and the demands.”
JJ Lunney scored what turned out to be the winner for Shelbourne nine minutes in the second half and the Reds had to weather late pressure from Pat’s before they could secure their first league win in Richmond Park for 16 years.
“After conceding they had to man up and make sure that don't concede another one. That is a huge part in developing a team and coming to places like this in the last ten minutes and dealing with the kitchen sink coming in on top of you.
"That is part of football and builds the strength and resolve in the team and it will last for the rest of the season.
“For a lot of them it is their first time playing in this division, playing in places like this. They are growing nicely and it is a quick turnaround for Monday and you just park it and move on to the next game."
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