Dave Donnelly reports from Tolka Park
Bohemians will guarantee European football for another season with a win at home to Cork City on Friday following a hard-fought 3-1 victory over Dublin rivals Shelbourne.
Danny Grant netted his first senior hat-trick as Keith Long’s side showed their ruthlessness in the final third, and Shels their generosity at the back.
Georgie Poynton had an eventful game at right-back for Shels, missing a penalty before netting a late consolation with his head.
The first half flew by as referee Rob Harvey allowed the physical battle in midfield to play out, with Gary Deegan and Keith Buckley particularly to the fore.
It was light on chances, however, with Andre Wright registering the first real shot of the game after 23 minutes, a nice swivel and turn but barely troubling Colin McCabe in the Shels goal.
Bohs had shaded the game in terms of possession but it was their speed on the counter that led to their first goal.
A Shelbourne attack broke down and the defence were caught high up the field. Wright nicked the ball past Dan Byrne to send Grant free, and the speedy winger finished coolly from close range.
Bohs very nearly had a second minutes later as a hospital pass from Karl Sheppard led to Keith Buckley dispossessing Luke Byrne, but he couldn’t beat McCabe from close range.
Shels’ first major chance arrived as Mark Byrne played in Ciaran Kilduff but, as the rangey striker charged towards goal, he took a heavy and James Talbot was out quickly to smother.
The home side took control of the game in the second half and showed their intent early on as high pressing on a Bohs throw saw a chance arise for Gary Deegan, but his volley flew wide.
The lively Grant had two more chances on the break but Shels began to knock on the door, with Mark Byrne seeing a shot blocked before Denzil Fernandes headed straight at Talbot.
Shels’ pressure told as the third quarter came to an end as a dangerous Poynton delivery forced Rob Cornwall to haul down Dan Byrne in the box – penalty.
Poynton stepped up to take it himself but it was a poor effort, weak and close to the goalkeeper, and Kilduff couldn’t force the loose ball.
Former Bohs man Poynton’s day got worse as he was hustled off the ball in his own box by Wright and Grant needed no extra invitation to slide home, albeit from an offside position. The goal stood.
And Grant made it 3-0 ten minutes from time and there was no cause for doubt as McCabe parried Wright’s shot straight to Grant and he finished emphatically in the bottom corner.
Poynton did manage to redeem himself somewhat with a late header but Shelbourne, winless in eight in the league, remain parlously poised just three points above the relegation play-off spot.
Shelbourne: Colin McCabe; Georgie Poynton, Dan Byrne, Luke Byrne, Alex O’Hanlon; Gary Deegan, Sean Quinn, Mark Byrne (Ryan Brennan 71); Denzil Fernandes (Shane Farrell 76), Karl Sheppard (Dayle Rooney 71), Ciaran Kilduff (Aaron Dobbs 76).
Subs not used: Jack Brady (gk), Daniel O’Reilly, Oscar Brennan.
Booked: Gary Deegan (22).
Bohemians: James Talbot; Andy Lyons, Rob Cornwall, Dan Casey, Anto Breslin; Keith Buckley (JJ Lunney 87), Conor Levingston (Ross Tierney 69), Dawson Devoy (Keith Ward 76); Kris Twardek, Danny Grant, Andre Wright (Dinny Corcoran 87).
Subs not used: Stephen McGuinness (gk), James Finnerty, Danny Mandroiu.
Referee: Rob Harvey.
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Danny Grant (Bohemians).