Shelbourne 3 (Tinnelly, Coughlan, Connolly)
Longford Town 2 (Deans, K.O’Connor)
(Reports with thanks to theLOIBLOG)
by Michael Fay
Further pressure was heaped on Longford Town manager Tony Cousins as his side were beaten 3-2 in Tolka Park in the SSE Aitricity League First Division. His side were reduced to ten men in the first half under controversial circumstances when Chris Shields saw red after just twenty minutes.
It was nearly the perfect start for the home team, a corner, which Longford failed to clear, landed at the feet of birthday boy Dylan Connolly who’s shot from six yards out was denied by an excellent Chris Bennion save, the former Reds’ goalkeeper denying his old team the ideal start. Just a minute later Bennion denied Connolly again after another corner fell to him, only to see his near post effort tipped wide.
It was a frantic start from the home side, and it took Longford some time to settle into the game, once they did that, they were the better side, and they were rewarded for that good play after 18 minutes, an excellent corner was headed home by ‘De Town’ centre half, Chris Deans.
The game changed with a controversial decision after that, Shelbourne cleared a corner, their captain Gannon went down holding his face, the referee clearly hadn’t seen it, but on the advice of his assistant in the opposite half, he took the decision to send goal scorer Deans off, a decision that infuriated Town manager Tony Cousins.
It was all Shelbourne after that, after going close just a minute before hand, Darren Tinnelly got the equaliser for The Reds, as his shot from just inside the area deflected past Bennion. Longford had held their shape really well up until then, but the one time they were caught Shelbourne punished them.
The second half started in rather predictable fashion; Longford came out and were excellent in their defensive shape. Shelbourne tried their best to find a way through but couldn’t get that killer pass. It was going to take something special, and Gareth Coughlan provided it with an excellent free kick just after the hour. Watch it here on the LOI Blog and moments later on his birthday, Dylan Connolly put the tie to bed from a Shels point of view.
Kevin O’Connor pulled one back for Town late on with an excellent looping effort from twenty yards out, Stephen Rice had a half chance in the final seconds but couldn’t get it on target.
Longford will feel hard done by as with eleven men, they looked the more likely until that controversial decision to send goal scorer Chris Deans off.
Shelbourne go seven points clear at the top of the table ahead of Galway FC, Shels travel to Waterford next week in what is sure to be a tight game between two promotion rivals.
The LOI BLOG man of the match: Dylan Connolly
Shelbourne FC: Greg Murray, Brian Gannon (C), Lee Desmond, Adam O’Connor, Philip Hand, Stephen McDonnell (OFF 92), Keith Quinn (OFF 86), Dylan Connolly, Darren Tinnelly, Gareth Coughlan (OFF 72), Lee Murtagh.
Subs: Nathan Murphy, Robert Gaul (ON 86), Michael Duffy, Jake Donnelly, Conor Murphy (ON 72), Stephen Sheerin, Ryan Robinson (ON 92).
Yellow Card: Dylan Connolly (13)
Longford Town FC: Chris Bennion, Noel Haverty, Chris Deans, William Tyrell (ON 46), Stephen Rice, Mark Salmon, Peter Hynes (OFF 32), Pat Sullivan, David O’Sullivan, Jamie Mulhall, Sean Russell (OFF 70).
Subs: Glen O’Connor (ON 46), Rhys Gorman, Kevin O’Connor (ON 32), Lorcan Shannon, Etanda Nkololo, Gary Shaw (ON 70), Paul Hunt.
Yellow Card: Pat Sullivan (28), William Tyrell (30)
Red Card: Chris Deans (20)