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Shels all but secure top-flight status as Deegan strike delivers massive three points against Sligo

The 10-man Reds were 1-0 winners at Tolka Park.

Gary Deegan celebrates scoring at Tolka Park.
Gary Deegan celebrates scoring at Tolka Park.
Image: ©INPHO

Shelbourne FC 1

Sligo Rovers 0

Darryl Geraghty reports from Tolka Park

SHELS ALL BUT secured their Premier Division status as the 10-man Reds battled their way to a vital three points, with Gary Deegan the hero for Ian Morris’ side, who now sit a point above their visitors as things stand.

The hosts came bouncing into this huge fixture, following a dramatic win on the road at Waterford FC, with Ryan Brennan the hero on that occasion.

And it was the impressive Brennan’s clever early through ball to Ciaran Kilduff that almost broke the deadlock with just six minutes played. Following some sloppy play out from the back by the visitors, the returning John Mahon, playing his first minutes of the season, saved his side’s blushes with an outstanding last-ditch tackle to deny Kilduff just as he pulled the trigger.

Despite having two weeks off to prepare, the Bit-O-Red struggled to get a foothold in the game. Ronan Coughlan had a tame header easily saved, but Shels looked the hungrier from the off.

No one epitomised this determination more than talismanic skipper Deegan, and just like he did in the reverse fixture, got his name on the score sheet — a beautifully worked goal it was too.

Having just replaced Georgie Poynton to a thigh injury with 18 minutes on the clock, Daniel O’Reilly, with his first touch, played a cushioned ball down the line to Kilduff. The big number nine worked a yard of space in the corner and flashed the ball back to the edge of the area, and with eyes in the back of his head, Dale Rooney cleverly stepped over the ball for the onrushing Deegan to smash into the roof of the net.

gary-deegan-celebrates-scoring-a-goal-with-dayle-rooney Source: ©INPHO

The Reds really should have doubled their lead just minutes later when pacy wide man Denzil Fernandez was played clean through by Kilduff, but his touch was just too heavy and the guilt-edged chance was gone, as the ball ran through to Ed McGinty.

Liam Buckley’s side grew into the game as the half wore on, responding well to the early set back. Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe, playing through the middle,, had a delightful and delicate flicked header sail inches past the post with Jack Brady was beaten all ends up. And just before the interval, Jesse Devers did well on the right wing to fashion a low cross into Coughlan, but the former Huddersfield Town man saw his right-footed strike sail agonisingly over the bar.

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Rovers held onto the momentum after the restart and had two great, and very similar chances to get themselves back on level terms. Firstly, Ryan De Vries went on a mazy dribble in from the left wing, ghosting past defenders but just as he struck, O’Reilly was on hand to deflect behind. Ronan Coughlan almost matched what his left winger had done, but this time his shot was dragged just wide of the post.

The home side weathered the storm well, but had to face the final 20 minutes with 10 men as Luke Byrne received a deserved straight red card for going over the ball in his clash with Ogedi-Uzokwe.

ronan-coughlan-and-mark-byrne Sligo Rovers' Ronan Coughlan and Mark Byrne of Shelbourne. Source: ©INPHO

But to their credit, Shels stayed strong and secured their first back-to-back wins of the season, as they saw out the remaining minutes and were deserving of the three points. Ray Matthews’ final whistle was greeted with scenes of celebration and relief as they can now look forward to another year in the top flight.

Shelbourne FC: Jack Brady, Georgie Poynton (Daniel O’Reilly, 18’), Alex O’Hanlon, Luke Byrne, Oscar Brennan, Gary Deegan, Mark Byrne, Denzil Fernandes (Dan Byrne, 72’), Ryan Brennan (Sean Quinn, 85’), Dale Rooney, Ciaran Kilduff (Aaron Dobbs, 85’)

Sligo Rovers: Ed McGinty, Teemu Penninkangas, Lewis Banks, John Mahon, Sigitas Olberkis (Alex Cooper, 60’), Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe, David Cawley, Niall Morahan (Will Seymour, 79’), Jesse Devers (Mark Byrne, 79’), Ryan De Vries (Darragh Noone, 60’), Ronan Coughlan.

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