Colmán Stanley reports from Tolka Park
Shelbourne will count themselves lucky to have come out with a 1-0 win over fellow Dubliners Bluebell United on a cold Monday night at a quiet Tolka Park.
It was an entertaining match and it was only Daniel McKenna’s looping cross which managed to find its way into the net that separated the two teams.
The Leinster Senior League side made a good showing of themselves and will be very disappointed not to have equalised, having missed some golden opportunities.
Shelbourne lined out for their first round clash in front of a tiny crowd as they looked to get their season back on track.
They were pre-season favourites to get promoted back to the Premier Division but so far have looked poor after a narrow win over Galway United and a 3-2 loss in their last game against Cabinteely. From that team, only Ryan Brennan was retained in the starting line-up.
Bluebell, whose team featured many ex-Shels men, have also had a mixed season by their standards and the Leinster Senior League holders sit ten points behind leaders Crumlin United in Senior Sunday.
The game started badly for the home side when Shane Farrell had to be stretchered off the field and was replaced by Sean Quinn.
Neither side looked particularly threatening in what was a poor game for the opening 20 minutes, until McKenna's goal sparked the game into life.
From out on the far left touch line, McKenna sent in a high looping free kick which managed to beat everyone including a disbelieving Andy McNulty.
It didn’t look like he had meant it but the home side weren’t complaining, and neither were the fans, as both sides upped the tempo from then on.
Initially it looked like Shelbourne were going to turn the screw and score a second but Bluebell weathered the storm and fought back in what was an end-to-end game for the last 20 minutes of the first half.
Bluebell should have equalised when the ball fell to Niall Barnes from a corner kick. Unfortunately he couldn’t keep his powerful volley down.
Bluebell started the second half well and should have had a deserved equaliser.
Colin McCabe, who had looked uncertain all match, dived to cut out a cross but the ball fell to midfielder Aaron Robinson.
With no keeper, it took a miraculous off the line clearance from John Ross Wilson to keep the home side’s advantage intact.
Bluebell then won a free-kick on the edge of the box and former Shels man Aaron Ashe forced McCabe into a good save as he leaped to punch the ball over the bar.
The away side controlled the second half and, again, they should have equalised through Niall Barnes.
Gary Seery, who was excellent when he came on, found Barnes unmarked in the box but the winger scuffed his shot wide.
It was to be the last great chance for Bluebell who were unable to force extra-time.
Shelbourne: Colin McCabe; John Ross Wilson, Craig Giles (Michael McHugh 78), Charles Mutawee, Flavio Marku, Darragh Noone, Daniel McKenna, Ryan Brennan (Aidan Friel 68), Shane Farrell (Sean Quinn 4), Dayle Rooney, James English.
Subs not used: Imrich Toth, Dan Byrne, Ciaran Burns, Aaron Connolly.
Booked: Craig Giles (29), John Ross Wilson (52).
Bluebell United: Andy McNulty, Karl Russell, Luke McWilliam, Jeff Flood, Glenn Walsh, Aaron Robinson (James O’Brien 82), Sean Quinn (Gary Seery 60), Ross Gaynor, Aaron Ashe (Luke Rossiter 73), Sean Byrne, Niall Barnes.
Subs not used: William McDonagh, Tony Griffiths, Keith Quinn, Aaron Moody.
Booked:Jeff Flood (39), Gary Seery (66), James O'Brien (90+2).
Referee: Paul Tuite.
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Daniel McKenna (Shelbourne).