Bottom club Shelbourne registered only their third league win of the season when overcoming Cork City by 2-1 in their Airtricity League Premier Division encounter at a sun-kissed Tolka Park on Friday.
The visitors dominated the opening-half with Ciaran Kilduff spurning their best opportunity in the opening minute as his weakened shot was cleared off the line by Pat Flynn.
However, the hosts were much improved upon the restart and claimed the three precious points through Lee Murtagh’s 55th minute opener and a clinching goal from substitute Darren Tinnelly ten minutes from time with Kalen Spillane’s goal in the 88th minute of mere consolation value for City.
There was almost a dream start for the visitors as John Dunleavy released Ciaran Kilduff through on goal with forty seconds played but after rounding Lee Murphy, the former Shamrock Rovers striker produced an unconvincing finish, allowing the retreating Pat Flynn to clear off the line.
Further sloppy defending in the fifth minute allowed Daryl Horgan a glimpse at goal but the winger’s left foot volley from 22 yards flew harmlessly wide of Murphy’s left-hand upright.
City continued to press forward with the confidence derived from last weekend’s victory over the title holders very much evident but the early breakthrough that their initial enterprise warranted failed to materialise.
A lull ensued with Shelbourne lacking the creativity of their opponents and in the 25th minute Daryl Kavanagh picked out Kilduff with a delightful through ball but the latter’s shot lacked venom as Murphy gathered comfortably.
Both Adam Hanlon and Lee Murtagh worked tirelessly in the home attack but in truth they were working from scraps with both Sean Brennan and Derek Doyle on either flank peripheral figures in the main.
The hosts did threaten from a Stephen Hurley corner-kick in the 35th minute but Hanlon, under pressure from Kalen Spillane, failed to get a decisive connection as his flicked header drifted out for a throw-in.
Another half-chance arrived five minutes before the break when the hosts were awarded an inviting free-kick on the edge of the area following Gary Buckley’s foul on Murtagh but Brennan’s attempt sadly lacked invention and was easily repelled by the City defensive wall.
The half ended as it began with City in the ascendancy and Murphy reacted well in injury time when deflecting Buckley’s drifting header from Ian Turner’s corner-kick over the crossbar to ensure stalemate by the interval.
The hosts resumed affairs in determined fashion and from a Brennan corner-kick in the 48th minute, Graham Gartland was inches away from handing his side a valuable lead but Buckley defended superbly when tracking his run.
However, Shels had built up a decent head of steam and they took the lead in the 55th minute when Hurley’s free-kick from deep was knocked back by Ian Ryan into the path of Murtagh who fired home from six yards.
Murtagh’s endeavour almost brought a second goal on the hour mark as he raced clear down the left flank but his inviting pull-back was blazed horribly wide by an increasingly influential Brennan.
With the hosts looking progressively competent at the back, City looked to have been handed a lifeline in the 77th minute as referee Derek Tomney awarded a penalty for Gartland’s clumsy challenge on Kavanagh but with the intervention of his assistant, that decision was rescinded with the resultant booking for Kavanagh adding insult to injury.
That decision proved the turning point of the game as Shels confirmed their win on the counter-attack in the 81st minute when substitute Darren Tinnelly fired home from eight yards at the second attempt following a driving run by Hanlon.
However, the nerves were soon evident as Spillane rose uncontested to power home a header from Horgan’s corner in the 88th minute and substitute Denis Behan almost earned a share of the spoils when heading narrowly wide as we approached injury time.
Shelbourne: Lee Murphy; Brian Shortall, Graham Gartland, Ian Ryan, Pat Flynn; Sean Brennan, Glen Cronin, Stephen Hurley, Derek Doyle (Darren Tinnelly, 79); Lee Murtagh (Dean Kelly, 85), Adam Hanlon (Craig Mooney, 90+3).
Subs not used: Niall Burdon, Adam O’Connor, Robert Cornwall, Stephen Sheerin.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; John Kavanagh, Gary Buckley, Kalen Spillane, Neal Horgan; Ian Turner (Adam Rundle, 66), John Dunleavy, Shane Duggan, Daryl Horgan; Daryl Kavanagh (Denis Behan, 89), Ciaran Kilduff.
Subs not used: Kevin Burns, Danny Furlong, Brian Lenihan, Stephen Kenny, Eoghan Murphy.
Referee: Derek Tomney (Dublin)