League Cup: Shelbourne 3-0 Dundalk
Steve Duffy reports from Tolka Park.
New Order’s hit song ‘True Faith’ blared over the tannoy just before kick off; it seemed appropriate for the couple of hundred Dundalk fans that made the journey as the display on the pitch, was a true test of faith.Shelbourne started off much the brighter. Within the opening 10 minutes Anto Flood done really well to evade Dave Rogers on right and then flash a ball across the six yard box that a stretching Peter Hynes missed by only inches. That should’ve been the warning signal to Dundalk that they were in for a proper game. Instead Dundalk seemed to play with the air that they were better than Shelbourne. The passing was lax and that helped to further encourage an already feisty Shelbourne side.
Dundalk fans watched the all too familiar sight of David Cassidy – last years Dundalk F.C. ‘Player of the Year’ – cover every inch of grass in a trademark display of exuberance. Tuner and O’Callaghan in Dundalk’s middle struggled to find a rhythm. On the 16th minute Dundalk were awarded a free on the edge of the box for a foul on O’Brien, who was being closely shadowed by ex-Dundalk captain David Crawley wherever he went. From the free-kick O’Callaghan curled a wicked ball in that only needed a touch to send it home, but amazingly it eluded everyone in the box and trickled out for a ‘keepers kick. That was to be Dundalk’s best chance of the half.
A minute later Anto Flood hit the bar with an attempted lob and 10 minutes after that Peter Hynes squeezed the ball past Bennion to give Shels a deserved lead. It got worse 5 minutes later when Richie Baker bundled the ball into the box, Dundalk failed to clear, it landed at Baker’s feet again and he finished beautifully with a flick from the outside of his foot. The second coincided with one of the funniest things I’ve seen at a football match in a while; the PA at Tolka announced that for the rest of the game Leo Burdocks chips would be free. Queue a scramble like I’d never seen before , from behind the goal where the Shels fans were at. People were being shoved out of the way in the isles, in order to get to the chip wagon. In no time witty chants were subsequently aimed in their direction from the Dundalk end; I’ll leave them to your imagination. In all the ‘chip’ hysteria there was still time before the break for Shels to hit the post again, this time Hynes racing onto the end of a long header from midfield to nearly get his second and Shels third.
The second half was a tame affair that never really got going. McGinley came on for O’Brien in a straight, like-for-like swap. The game had an inevitable feel to it, you felt Dundalk needed to score early to kick start it again. They did force a couple of early corners, but nothing came of them. Shels continued to pressure Dundalk’s midfield when in possession and O’Callaghan or Turner struggled to get their passing game going. The wings didn’t give any reprieve to Dundalk either and at times they struggled to even get 3 passes in a row together. The game was put beyond any doubt when on the 76th minute Paddy Madden found himself in acres of space from a deep floated free kick and he side footed it into the net coolly.
If you were to look for one positive from the game, then the display of Michael Coburn at the back (when he came on for Burns shortly in the second half) would be it. He showed some nice touches and was cool in possession. He also looked dangerous in the opposition half from free kicks. With a long season ahead, every squad member you feel will be vital. His header down for Mansaram’s swivel and shot was the closest Dundalk came.
One thing’s certain anyway; the performance will have to improve if Dundalk is to get anything out of Friday’s nights game against Cork.
Dundalk: Bennion, Daly, Burns (Coburn 54), Kelly, Rogers, Mackle, O’Callaghan, Turner, Singh, O’Brien (McGinlay 45), Mansaram. Subs not used: Coulter, Barnett, Griffin
Shelbourne: Whelan, Quigley, Crawley, Keely (Doyle 7), Hedderman, Madden, McGill, Cassidy (O’Brien 75), Hynes, Flood (Meenan 71), Baker. Subs not used: McMillan, Delaney