League Report: Shelbourne 0 - 0 Derry City

Shelbourne boss Damien Duff

Shelbourne boss Damien Duff Credit: Martin Doherty (ETPhotos)

Christine Allen reports from Tolka Park

A depleted Shelbourne persevered against a Brandywell side who once again proved as tough to break as the corrugated iron roof that shelters the Main Stand patrons from the elements, earning a priceless point following a week of sickness in-house that threatened to derail the fixture.

The volume of 3,932 fans was a surround sound from a crowd who were high on six wins and one draw from their seven games played.

Like the beat of the drums in the Ballybough end the energy was frenetic, the crowd, to quote Bono, 'in a place called Vertigo', as they followed the ball pinging and ponging between both ends.

Shelbourne started with a 4-3-3 formation and were first out the gates with a long ball down the left channel by JJ Lunney - Matty Smith almost creeping in behind Mark Connolly before Derry City’s Brian Maher hoofed it clear.

Will Jarvis looked characteristically agile, skipping rope down the left past the Derry bodies who were no longer the Candystripes in colour, their new navy away kit making its debut in Drumcondra, while a burst from Shels led to a delivery from Good Friday's goalscorer Liam Burt  - claims of a handball dismissed by referee Eoghan O’Shea who, by the end of the 90 minutes, was revoked from Damien Duff's Easter card list.

A visionary ball by Paddy Barrett was struck first time by Evan Caffrey, his left boot sending the ball to the heavens.

Derry came alive after the first 15 mins, Patrick Hoban scuffing the ball harmlessly across the six yard box, yet it was a statement of intent from the visitors, who settled into a rhythm as the minutes ticked by.

In a worrying passage of play for the home side, Ruaidhri Higgins' men delivered a sequence of set pieces that looked to threaten Conor Kearns and his backline, the height of the Brandywell men posing a constant danger.

Shels almost conceded on 21 minutes following a darting run by Paul McMullan which caught JJ Lunney off guard, McMullan’s spin and placement of the ball into the top right bin just shy of the mark.

In keeping with the back and forth ebb of the night, Duff's men retaliated when Matty Smith dinked the ball to Jarvis, who weaved and beat Ronan Boyce, before the Derry backline neutralised The Reds attack.

The closest chance of the first half came for the visitors when Patrick Hoban tried to guide the ball on the edge of the area with his chest, the move throwing Evan Caffrey and the number six for six, the two red shirts unable to lay claim to the ball between them, before Michael Duffy pile drived the ball towards goalkeeper Kearns, only for it to be blocked by Paddy Barrett who did well not to show any signs of discomfort.

The Drumcondra Debonairs showed their class in the 27th minute with a formation that would rival any seen at an air show, a 3v2 crimson charge of Liam Burt, Caffrey and Smith a sight to behold, Burt rolling the ball to Caffrey on the left who to the crowds disappointment, slid it inches across the right hand post.

Official O’Shea took the sting out of the missed opportunity when he deemed the run of play offside, while two free-kicks from both ends did little to trouble Kearns nor Brian Maher.

La Roux's bulletproof may have entertained the fans at the half-time break, yet it was clear that Shelbourne felt vulnerable on Derry’s counter.

At the restart, an insistent urgency mixed with waves of frustration pressed themselves like a 12th man onto the pitch as Tolka began to boil, while on the touchline Damien Duff lived and breathed every pass, tackle and run of play with his eleven on the field, the referee giving Duff the silent treatment despite numerous attempts by The Reds boss to catch his attention.

Hungry for the full complement of points, the home side played high up the pitch, fan favourite Gavin Molloy marshalling substitute Mullen to the crowd's liking.

Rumour has it that the roars of the crowd were heard in Fagans Pub when a slick transition which started at the back with Burt, who did well to shield the ball before playing it to Smith, backheeled to John O’Sullivan who looked to be home and free.

Much to the visitors relief, his cross was blocked with a crucial intercept by Shane McEleney, and pints were once more supped.

As the minutes ticked on, it became clear that Derry fans felt short changed following their long and winding journey from up north, one supporter urging his team to take Duff’s side on while the Candystripes bench urged their eleven to ‘get a smile on their faces’, which, while a new one in terms of motivational speak for me, seemed to work (Tony Robbins, take note.)

In the final twenty-minutes, the visitors looked the more likely to score and Tolka Park hung on a knife edge, a free kick by Will Patching in the 70th minute tipped away and to the left by Conor Kearns for a corner, before Tyreke Wilson was forced to protect his back post from a lofty cross.

By this juncture Duff was almost defying gravity on the sidelines.

Sensing the danger posed by playmaker Patching, the Ballyboden native was vociferous in his direction to his eleven to ‘keep it tight.’

‘It’s only 10 minutes of your life’ he enthused to an unknown player on the pitch, perhaps conscious of tired legs given the GAA like pace of the game.

An additional 6 minutes were awarded due to a number of interruptions in play and it was hearts in mouths stuff for the home fans as the clock ticked down.

Time stood still when in the dying embers of the match, Patching lobbed an inviting ball towards Mullen, the stations of the cross travelling like a Mexican wave across the Riverside as it bounced unfavourably, allowing Kearns who had wisely left his line to get a touch.

Rosary beads were further plucked from pockets as the ball bounced unluckily off Kearns’ head, before landing at McJannet’s feet.

Kearns utilised his experience and kept a cool head, planting his feet and collecting the ball safely when McJannet fired it across goal.

And so the final whistle blew, Shels and Derry destined to share the spoils on this occasion, a thrilling contest ending 0-0.


Shelbourne: Conor Kearns; Patrick Barrett, Sean Gannon, Gavin Molloy, Tyreke Wilson; Liam Burt (Kameron Ledwidge 82), Evan Caffrey (Shane Farrell 62), William Jarvis (Sean Boyd 81), Jonathan Lunney, John O'Sullivan; Matthew Smith (John Martin 64).

Subs not used: Lorcan Healy, Lewis Temple, Shane Griffin, Keith Ward, Dean Williams.

Booked: Matthew Smith (32), Patrick Barrett (59), Sean Boyd (85)


Derry City: Brian Maher; Ronan Boyce (Sam Todd 89), Ciarán Coll, Mark Connolly, Shane McEleney, Cameron McJannet; Michael Duffy, Paul McMullan (Daniel Kelly 75), Adam O'Reilly, William Patching; Patrick Hoban (Daniel Mullen 46).

Subs not used: Tadhg Ryan, Ciaron Harkin, Luke O'Donnell, Liam Mullan, Tiernan McGinty, Sean Patton, Jordan McEneff.

Booked: Mark Connolly (5).


Referee: Eoghan O'Shea.

Attendance: 3,932.