Ryan Brennan headed the only goal as Shelbourne dug in to win their SSE Airtricity Premier Division clash at Finn Harps, having played almost the entirety of the contest with 10 men. 

Karl Sheppard was given a straight red in the 11th minute for a heavy challenge on Leo Donnellan by referee Damien McGraith. The Drumcondra-based team showed their abilities going forward to get ahead and then in the second half proved their resolute traits to stay there. 

Aaron Dobbs went in hard on Sam Todd as he tried to clear moments later but on a slippery pitch under grey skies in front of a scattered few wearing covid masks, Harps failed to make their numerical advantage show. 

As a consequence, Shelbourne took the lead on 29 minutes when Brennan got up between a couple of Harps defenders and glanced a header past Mark Anthony McGinley after a cross by Alex O'Hanlon, right-footed from the left. 

Dobbs got a sight of goal as he tore away but opted for power and failed to hit the target.

Alexander Kogler was the first Harps player to test Colin McCabe when the Austrian created space but the Shelbourne goalkeeper get down to save one-handed from a shot that was on the weak side.

Again, though, it was Shelbourne who carried significantly more menace and weren’t afraid to push men forward. Dan Byrne drilled one across the brows of the six-yard box and Sam Todd made a fantastic last-gasp clearance. From the resultant corner by Dayle Rooney, Luke Byrne headed wide.  

With the fixture originally penciled in for 16 March, the form guide was barely worth reading. It was though, worth recalling that Ollie Horgan's side had lost their last three outings, two before the shutdown and most recently 3-1 at Shamrock Rovers. Shelbourne had lost in their previous two, some 148 days apart with the second of those against Waterford United on Saturday last.

Harps began to turn the screw a little tighter in the second half with Tony McNamee seeing plenty of ball. After a neat build-up and a decent turn of pace, Karl O’Sullivan broke through the rea sea and McCabe did well to turn it away. 

Shelbourne manager Ian Morris would’ve been delighted with the way his defence stood firm, although Harps’ Kosovar Sadiki did hook one just wide at the deserted Town End terrace in the final quarter.

Finn Harps: Mark Anthony McGinley; Shane McEleney, Kosovar Sadiki, Sam Todd; Leo Donnellan (Tony McNamee 45), Mark Coyle (Jamie Browne 83), Ruairi Harkin, Mark Russell (Gareth Harkin 60); Ryan Connolly, Karl O’Sullivan; Alexander Kogler (Tony McNamee, half-time).

Shelbourne: Colin McCabe; Aidan Friel, Dan Byrne, Luke Byrne, Alex O’Hanlon; Gary Deegan, Sean Quinn; Karl Sheppard, Ryan Brennan (Georgie Poynton 71), Dayle Rooney (Daniel O’Reilly 87); Aaron Dobbs (Ciaran Kilduff 51).

Referee: Damien McGraith.

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