Shelbourne's hopes of wrestling fourth place from Limerick 37 were dented as they failed to find the net in this scoreless draw.

The hosts played a lot of neat football in front of Kilkenny, but a lack of penetration and less than clinical finishing contributed to one of their least impressive performances of the season.

Shels dominated the first half but were unable to conjure a goal to compliment their abundance of possession.

Midfielder Mark O'Brien should have opened the scoring after 20 minutes.

Anthony Flood latched onto his strike partner Mark Leech's flick. Flood and Kilkenny 'keeper AJ Murray collided and the ball squirmed loose but O'Brien shot wide from 12 yards, despite only having the last defender to beat.

Seven minutes later Aidan Collins had a header cleared off the line by Colm Bargary after the defender had met a Mark McCulloch corner. The resulting corner led to another chance, with Murray making a good save after Stuart Malcolm had directed a Jim Crawford cross goalwards.

Murray was called into action again on 36 minutes when he blocked an effort from Shels right-back Alan Murphy with his feet.

Conversely, home 'keeper Tony O'Dowd, back after a spell out with a shoulder injury, was a spectator for most of the opening period. He needed to be alert in additional time, however, to cut out a centre from Stephen Grant.

Shels opened the second half brighter, with McCulloch and youngster Peter McGlynn combining well on the edge of the box only for the latter to skew a left-footed shot well wide of the target.

Ted O'Connor had O'Dowd scrambling across his goal after 57 minutes, but the Kilkenny striker's 30-yard effort bounced just wide of the left upright.

The Cats were growing in confidence at this point, with substitute defender James Dermody flashing a sweetly-struck shot just wide of the same upright.

Shels piled on the pressure in the closing minutes but the Kilkenny defence, which was well-marshalled by John MacNicholas, held firm.

City remain bottom of the table, but are now just two points behind south-east neighbours Wexford Youths.

Shelbourne's third defeat in three games leaves them six points off Limerick, with the Dubliners having played an extra game.