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Burke bags winning goal to clinch promotion for Shelburne United

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Shelburne United, who beat Gorey Rangers in the Division 2 promotion play-off.

Shelburne United, who beat Gorey Rangers in the Division 2 promotion play-off.

Shelburne United, who beat Gorey Rangers in the Division 2 promotion play-off.

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Shelburne United 2 Gorey Rangers 1

EOIN BURKE played a key role as his delightful 53rd-minute strike drove his side to victory, clinching promotion for Shelburne at the expense of Gorey Rangers in this Wexford Football League Division 2 play-off at the Ajax Athletic club grounds on Saturday.

The game was marred by an injury to referee Niall Whelan, who was accidentally struck on the head by the match ball.

This led to the action being delayed for some time, with the match official lying prone for some twelve minutes. Having recovered and being led from the pitch, Whelan was unable to continue, leaving assistant referee Garrett Larkin to take charge for the remainder of the contest.

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The incident occurred 15 minutes into the second-half, with the referee following the play through the centre of the pitch as Gorey Rangers tried to play a quick ball forward.

Whelan immediately fell to the ground after receiving the accidental blow of the ball, and he was attended to by both clubs’ first aid personnel.

He lay prone on the ground before eventually being helped to the sideline. Having been attended to further, he was then assisted to the referee’s dressing-room for more treatment.

After an ambulance arrived, Whelan received further attention from paramedics, but thankfully he was deemed to be alright following considerable treatment.

When the game resumed, assistant referee Garrett Larkin took the whistle, while fellow linesman Martin Kenny stood down, allowing for a linesman from each club to carry out the official duties for the remainder of the game.

As a result of the delay, a considerable amount of additional time was played which led to a tense finish as Shelburne protected a one-goal lead.

Credit to deputy referee Larkin who managed the game through a tense finish with considerable comfort. It was a bizarre ending to the adult league, and Niall Whelan is wished well in his recovery.

These two sides had finished level on 40 points behind champions Ajax Athletic, and this victory helps Shelburne continue their progress with promotion to Division 1 now secured for next season.

They got there courtesy of that superb Burke finish, but they had to play through some anxious moments in the 24 minutes of additional time before they could celebrate promotion at the end of what has been a hectic season.

Shelburne opened the game impressively, retaining lots of possession, but they were unable to make much headway against a solid Gorey back four.

Their best effort to break the deadlock arrived after seven minutes, with a Barry Kelly shot being well held by ’keeper Adam Dunbar.

Gorey Rangers gradually played their way into the game as they started to perform in more sprightly fashion.

Derick Woods and David Christie saw efforts rise just over the bar, but they gave a glimpse of how dangerous they could be once they received quick ball up front.

The deadlock came very close to being broken from an untidy piece of defending. Killian Cushe of Gorey Rangers played a long ball to the edge of the area, leaving retreating defender Kevin Collins to get his head to the ball that flew over advancing ’keeper Luke O’Connor.

Much to their relief of Shelburne, it crashed back off the crossbar to leave the game scoreless after 18 minutes.

Shelburne had forced their fifth corner-kick by the 25th minute, but their efforts were capably dealt with by the opposing defence.

They should have broken the deadlock on 38 minutes when Eoin Kelly played a great ball across the face of the goal, but Eoin Burke was unable to direct his header in when he should at least have hit the target.

Gorey Rangers forced their first corner-kick three minutes later. Robbie Troope produced a great delivery but the home defence somehow managed to control the situation, clearing the breaking ball to safety.

Eoin Kelly was causing problems for the opposing back four with his speed and direct approach.

One minute before the break, Kelly sent the ball forward quickly and Brian Lynch showed neat control before firing high into the roof of the net from just inside the area, leaving it 1-0 to Shelburne at the interval.

Gorey Rangers showed more of an attacking instinct on the resumption, forcing a quick corner-kick which failed to produce their much-needed goal.

Shortly afterwards Shelburne ’keeper Luke O’Connor dropped an Oisín Hobbs free-kick but recovered as Killian Cushe was attempting to stab the loose ball home.

The game opened up considerably on the resumption. Good play from Gorey full-back Ross O’Connor saw him break down the right but he lacked support in front of goal to meet his excellent low cross. It was a real let-off for Shelburne as their back four had been considerably stretched.

The lengthy delay occurred 15 minutes into the second-half, but once play eventually resumed it was Gorey Rangers who took the initiative as they went in search of the equalising goal.

After going close on several occasions, they eventually got the goal their second-half display deserved, arriving in the 52nd minute.

A smart diagonal run from Derick Woods saw him get the ball into the danger zone where Killian Cushe reacted quickest to drill the ball low to the net from close range, making it 1-1.

But the lead was short-lived as Shelburne capitalised on slack defending.

Brian Minogue won possession out on the right and sent over a great ball to the edge of the area that was met by Eoin Burke who powered a superb right-footed shot high into the top right-hand corner of the net, giving them a 2-1 advantage to take into the tense final stages.

Having capitalised on that opening, Shelburne put up a staunch defensive resistance through the closing twelve minutes.

After failing to increase their lead, as Burke saw an effort fly just wide, they defended in numbers through the extra period of additional time, with the opposition unable to break down their defence.

Gorey’s Derick Woods saw a volley rise over the bar while David Christie sent a further effort just wide.

But while Shelburne always looked comfortable, they were still mightily relieved to hear the final whistle of referee Garrett Larkin as they celebrated promotion to a higher level of football for the new season.

Shelburne: Luke O’Connor, Kevin Collins, Paddy Barron, Pádraig Lynch, Geoff Quigley, Barry Kelly, Shane Cullen, Brian Minogue, Eoin Burke, Brian Lynch, Eoin Kelly. Subs. - Daire Bolger, Seán Moran, Craig Delaney.

Gorey Rangers: Adam Dunbar, Ross O’Connor, Eoin Murphy, Conor Travers, Oisín Hobbs, Dian Leeson, Killian Cushe, Robbie Troope, Derick Woods, David Christie, Seán Roche. Subs. - Craig Foster, Calum Travers, Darren Trunchen.

Referee: Niall Whelan. Assistants: Garrett Larkin, Martin Kenny.


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