Andrew Dempsey reports from Tolka Park
Shelbourne’s stretched their lead at the top of the First Division to 11 points as they saw off Cork City by two goals to one at Tolka Park.
A goal and an assist from the inspirational Michael O’Connor helped Shels to another win as Ryan Brennan also bagged his 10th league goal of the season.
Cian Murphy scored what proved to be a mere consolation for City as they remain adrift in the playoff hunt – while Shels imperious run towards promotion showed no sign of stopping.
Shels came into Friday’s clash top of the First Division table eight points clear of their nearest rivals Treaty United.
That lead was 11 points after last Friday’s action – but that lead was brought back down to eight after the Limerick side won away to Cobh Ramblers.
And following that win over Wexford last weekend, Shelbourne boss Ian Morris went with an unchanged side from that success at Ferrycarrig Park.
City also came into Friday’s game off the back of a win – over Athlone – and their Head Coach Colin Healy opted for one swap from last weekend’s win in the Midlands as Dale Holland came in for the injured Alec Byrne.
But it was Shels who started the better of the two teams – winning a succession of corners against the visitors.
However, they could not break down a stubborn City defence – and they ended up coughing up the first real effort on goal of the game.
Holland – who came in for the aforementioned Byrne – latched onto a long-ball and shot low at Brendan Clarke who was more than equal to the strike on goal.
John Ross Wilson had Shels’ best chance of the opening 45 on the half hour mark as he saw his low volley whistle past the post in a rare opening for the hosts.
While City looked threatening at times on the break – they were undone in the 36th minute through a Michael O’Connor header.
Gordon Walker felled Dayle Rooney before Georgie Poynton’s free-kick found the head of O’Connor who beat Mark McNulty at his near post.
The Reds continued to press forward – with Ryan Brennan denied by a McNulty save, before Shane Farrell then blasted over the bar on the rebound as they took a 1-0 lead into the break.
That relenteless pressure continued into the early stages from the hosts – and they hit the woodwork twice in less than a minute.
Captain Luke Byrne hit the post initially after Kevin O’Connor’s free-kick broke down – before Michael O’Connor then headed off the bar from Poynton’s corner-kick.
And having not been able to make that pressure pay – the hosts were pegged back by City who levelled through Cian Murphy.
He latched onto Steven Beattie’s hooked ball – before turning and firing home past Clarke at his near post.
But that parity would not last long as City found themselves behind once more minutes later through Brennan.
The in-form attacking midfielder slotted home after Michael O’Connor dispossessed Holland in front of the visitors defence before then teeing up Brennan.
City however were not deterred by conceding their second of the night – and fought gamely in the last half-hour – albeit to no avail.
Gearoid Morrissey went close but was denied by Byrne with a strong block, before Shels then went close through O’Connor but he had his effort blocked by Cian Coleman.
The Leesiders laid siege to Shels’ goal in injury-time with Dylan McGlade going close – but his effort was parried clear resulting in a corner that was cleared with relative ease as Shels stretched their lead at the top of the table to 11 points.
Shelbourne: Brendan Clarke; Kevin O'Connor, Ally Gilchrist, Luke Byrne (c), John Ross Wilson; Dayle Rooney, George Poynton, JJ Lunney, Shane Farrell, Ryan Brennan; Michael O'Connor.
Subs not used: Kyle O'Connor, Alex Nolan, Stephen Negru, Brian McManus, Glen McAuley, Maxim Kouogun, Alex Cetiner, Jack Brady, Michael Barker.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Gordon Walker, Jonas Hakkinen, Steven Beattie, Jack Baxter; Gearóid Morrissey (c), Dale Holland (Jack Walsh 72), Cian Coleman; Beineon O'Brien Whitmarsh (Dylan McGlade 68), Cian Murphy (Uniss Kargbo 85), Darragh Crowley.
Subs not used: Jamie Wynne, Issa Kargbo, Paul Hunt, David Harrington, Luke Desmond, Oran Crowe.
Booked: Steven Beattie (10) Dylan McGlade (81).
Referee: David Dunne
extratime.com Player of the Match: Michael O’Connor (Shelbourne)