League Preview: Shelbourne -v- Cork City

Shels' Kam Ledwidge celebrates his side's equaliser v Sligo Rovers with goalscorer Matty Smith

Shels' Kam Ledwidge celebrates his side's equaliser v Sligo Rovers with goalscorer Matty Smith Credit: Paul Dolan (ETPhotos)


Shelbourne’s encouraging start to the 2023 season continued last weekend when their ten men managed a 1-1 home draw against Dundalk so they will be buoyed with confidence when they entertain Cork City at Tolka Park on Friday night.

Their defensive record is the envy of most clubs in the league with only Derry City matching them for miserliness, both teams are on eight goals against after 11 series of games.

The other end of the pitch is their problem area however, and the lack of goal scoring ability has been exacerbated in recent weeks with the loss through injury of centre forward Sean Boyd.

The did manage to score a goal in the Dundalk game but that was not from open play; Jack Moylan netting a penalty in the 55th minute after Evan Caffrey was fouled in the box.

They held that 1-0 lead until the 81st minute but the incessant pressure applied by the Lilywhites eventually paid dividends when Rayhaan Tullock managed to beat Man of the Match Conor Kearns for the equalising goal.

Manager Damian Duff is conscious of the threat posed by Cork City, despite their lowly position in the table, a point he highlighted when he spoke to the Shelbourne media team this week. He said: “(It is a) really difficult task tomorrow. Cork City are a very good team. They have a brilliant manager in Colin Healy. He commands so much respect in the game for what he has achieved. 

“What he’s done with Cork City is very impressive as well, getting them back to where a big club of their stature belongs. As with any game, I won’t be disrespecting them, that’s not our style. We’ve warned the players they can’t either, it’s a really tough game.

"It’s there for all to see. We saw what they did away to Rovers, 4-4 draw, they beat Dundalk. Cork City are a really organised side and it’s a tough task for sure.”

He then added “We did show a lot of footage from that last game in Turners Cross (Shels won 2-0 in Turners Cross in March), but it won’t mean much at 7.45pm tomorrow. It’s a different ground, different weather, different travel arrangements. We do know what we’re facing in terms of personnel.

“It’s the same squad, similar shape, but we know Colin might tweak it, that said our boys have a feel for them what they bring. We know they’ve got quality, and we’ll show them the respect they deserve.”


The reality of life in the Premier Division has certainly hit home for Colin Healy’s side in recent weeks with three losses out of the last four games leaving them in ninth place in the table.

They are now only four points ahead of bottom side UCD with two tough away fixtures facing them over the Bank Holiday weekend – Shelbourne on Friday night and leaders Bohemians on Monday.

While still relatively early in the season, these two games will tell a lot about the depth and quality of their squad and their ability to deliver performances but more importantly results and points on the board.

They certainly played second fiddle to Derry City in the last match in Turners Cross where they were outplayed for large stretches of the match, conceding three goals and only getting a consolation goal in the 92nd minute.

The 3-1 scoreline last Friday certainly reflected the difference between two sides operating at opposite ends of the table, and while Friday’s opposition Shelbourne are currently a mid-table side, they have showed the resilience and doggedness that has so far evaded Colin Healy’s side this season.

City have not won a game away from home this season with both of their wins coming at home, but they have shown that they can pick up points on the road. Their 4-4 draw away at Shamrock Rovers and the 2-2 draw at Sligo Rovers will give them confidence that they go toe to toe with some of the best sides in the league. They will need to draw on all of that confidence when they run out at Tolka Park tonight to face Shelbourne.

Referee: Ray Matthews



Shelbourne beat Cork City on the three occasions when they both played in the First Division back in 2021. They won twice on Turners Cross, 3-1 and 2-0, with a 2-1 home win also sandwiched in between at Tolka Park.

They also maintained their form against the Leesiders when they clashed in Cork in mid-March this year, winning 2-0.  City conceded a 10th minute OG by Josh Honahan and Jack Moylan secured the three points for Shels with a 50th minute goal.


Shelbourne Evens; Draw 2/1; Cork City 14/5


Shelbourne 2 - 0   Cork City



Injured:  Sean Boyd, Conor Kane, Mark Coyle, Gavin Molloy, Kian Leavy

Doubtful: None

Suspended: Shane Farrell

Cork City

Injured:  Cian Bargary

Doubtful: None

Suspended: None