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Dublin: 5°C Thursday 22 April 2021
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'I think he's going to be a big, big player for us this season'

Ian Morris reserved high praise for Gary Deegan after his eye-catching performance against Dundalk on Friday.

Shels' Gary Deegan.
Shels' Gary Deegan.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

SHELBOURNE BOSS IAN Morris praised his side’s performance in the 2-1 loss against Dundalk on Friday at Tolka Park, while also acknowledging the contribution of new recruit Gary Deegan.

The hosts were ultimately left to rue the concession of two avoidable goals from set pieces, before a spirited second-half display fell just short in difficult conditions.

“There were so many fine margins — it was a little slip, or it was one-v-one, or it just didn’t quite come off for us,” Morris said afterwards.

“The positive is we’re creating chances. We’ve shown we can play, we can dig in when we need to. We’ve shown a lot.

“We know what type of characters we have in the build-up, we know what type of quality we have. To concede from two set pieces, you can’t afford to do that, that’s why Dundalk have been as good as they have for years — they make you pay with them little fine margins.”

One man key to getting Shelbourne back into the game was Deegan. The 32-year-old midfielder’s fine strike early in the second half helped set up a tense finish to the game.

The Dubliner joined Shels in the off-season, after playing in Britain previously. Having originally started out with the Tolka Park outfit, before spells with Longford, Galway and Bohemians, he then spent the past decade abroad, playing for Coventry, Hibernian, Northampton, Shrewsbury, Southend and Cambridge. In fact, Deegan was team-mates with Morris at Northampton, many years before the manager convinced him to come back to where it all began.

You can see his quality and the influence he has over his team-mates,” Morris said. “And the influence he has over the opposition as well — he simplifies the game, puts himself in the right position a lot of the time and uses the ball quite well. I think he’s going to be a big, big player for us this season, and really drive us on.”

Another who impressed was teenage winger Jaze Kabia, who joined the Dublin club from Cobh Ramblers last summer. The 19-year-old was starting his first top-flight match, having come off the bench against Cork City in the season opener.

“Confident boy, big, can play, very quick,” Morris said. “[On Friday] he had a couple of chances to get in and never quite got there. But that’ll stand to Jaze. It’s his first game in the Premier Division and I thought he did really well.”

Kabia did concede the free kick that led to the second goal, in a situation that perplexed his manager.

“I thought that was a bit of a strange one, to be honest. If it’s an off-the-ball incident, I was asking: is it not a booking? And if it wasn’t, then why is it a free kick? I was a little bit confused by that one, and I couldn’t get an answer off the referee or the fourth official. It was a strange one, but they’re given all the time — us not dealing with it is the main concern for me. The ball was put in the middle of the six-yard box and we spoke about that all the time. Pat Hoban’s goal comes from the six-yard box. It’s frustrating, but that’s the way it went.”

There is little time for rest, with Shels travelling up to play Finn Harps in Ballybofey tonight. Morris is optimistic about getting a result, but acknowledges it won’t be easy against a side who remain unbeaten this season, while it took a last-gasp Adam Liddle goal to end their 100% record on Friday.

There are positives going up to Finn Harps. I’d say the weather will be similar [to the Dundalk game]. The type of game will be similar. So it’s good preparation if you spin it that way. 

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“We go into work in the morning, get a half day and travel up on the bus. I changed it [on Friday night], because I knew it was three games in seven days. You have to utilise your squad and I thought anyone who came in did really well.

“Ollie’s had good investment into his budget this year and signed really well. He’s got a good squad up there and they’ll get results this season. They’ll turn people over. He’s got players who can play and like all Ollie’s sides, they’re tough boys to play against. We’ve got to dust ourselves down, recover properly and we’ll be going out to get three points.”

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Paul Fennessy

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