Shelbourne pair delighted with run
ADAM Hanlon and Stephen Hurley's beaming smiles can probably be seen all over Co. Wicklow. The Shelbourne pair were part of what appeared to be a sinking ship at Tolka Park but with new manager Johnny McDonnell now at the helm, they have put together a run of results that have seen them climb out of the relegation zone.
Last week, they came from behind to win 2-1 against Limerick FC and on Friday evening, they repeated the trick. Belfield Park was the setting for the high stakes clash against fellow relegation rivals UCD in a very controversial match.
Hughie Douglas started in his usual centre half role for the hosts, with Hurley and Hanlon togging out at centre half and left wing respectively for Shels.
Douglas' side struck first when Craig Walsh bagged an absolute belter in the 16th minute. Ten minutes later Douglas almost doubled that lead. Mark Langtry sent in a cross and Douglas was inches from connecting with an acrobatic bicycle kick attempt.
But then the trouble began. With 40 minutes on the clock, Langtry was shown a straight red card for thrusting his elbow in the direction of Hanlon.
A minute before the break Sean Brennan levelled the scores and then eight minutes into the second period, Hanlon made light work of beating Students defender Sean Russell before sending in an inch-perfect cross that Dean Kelly headed home.
And things went from bad to worse for Martin Russell's side as they lost James Kavanagh to another red card minutes later. The nine-men of UCD, for whom Douglas was withdrawn on the hour mark, tried but couldn't mount a comeback.
That result was not good news for Bohemians. They were hosting Drogheda United at the same time and were trailing to an Alan Byrne effort until second half injury time when defender Roberto Lopes took advantage of slack marking in the penalty area to nick a precious point for the Gypsies. Chris Lyons managed 59 minutes of the contest before being withdrawn for Conor Murphy, while Andy Mulligan entered the fray after 69 minutes at the expense of Stephen Traynor.
Those results, coupled with the fact that Bray Wanderers lost 0-1 to Dundalk, now mean that Bohemians are the new basement club, a single point behind Bray Wanderers, UCD and Shelbourne.
At the other end of the spectrum, Danny Ledwith's Shamrock Rovers failed to close the gap between themselves and league leaders St. Patrick's Athletic as they were held to a 0-0 draw by title rivals Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds. It proved to be something of a wasted journey for Ledwith though as he failed to make it off the bench.
Speaking of league leaders, there is a new table-topper in the First Division. Longford Town relinquished their grip on top spot after losing out to Mervue United.
The Town actually took the lead on the 37th minute when Gary Shaw's right-wing cross found Davy O'Sullivan and the league's hottest prospect steered a header beyond Conor Gleeson.
But the Galway side fought back to record a 1-3 victory and Longford now drop down to second place due to their inferior goal difference against Athlone Town. Corie Treacy and Willie Tyrrell occupied the full back berths for Town, with O'Sullivan leading the line. David O'Neill and Gavin Doyle were not called upon.