Sport League of Ireland

Sunday 17 December 2017

Former boss Fenlon questions wisdom of Shelbourne's Dalymount deal

Former Rovers boss Pat Fenlon
Former Rovers boss Pat Fenlon
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Former Shelbourne and Bohemians manager Pat Fenlon has voiced his concerns about Shels' move to Dalymount Park.

The club announced yesterday that they will relocate to Dalymount as "co-anchor tenants" with Bohs but Fenlon isn't convinced that it is a good move for Shels.

Fenlon spent four years as manager of Shelbourne in which time he enjoyed huge success and he admitted that he could understand supporters' reservations about ground-sharing with one of their main rivals.

"Personally, I'm not sure the move to Dalymount is ideal for Shels long-term," Fenlon said.

"I'm not even sure the redevelopment of Dalymount is a good idea to be honest. That might be a bit controversial.

"It's an awkward situation because everyone doesn't know the circumstances of it but I would like to have seen a discussion on it and see what's best going forward for Shelbourne.

"I think it's going to be difficult to attract a new fan base in Dalymount. If Shels have gone down this road, there might not have been many other options open to them.

"I know Tolka is not where they're from. They've formed a bit of a support base there but they're going into Bohs heartland now."

While Fenlon isn't totally opposed to the idea of ground-sharing with Bohs, he is unsure that Dalymount is the answer.

"I would have preferred to see a green fields site that both clubs can share in a highly densely populated area but that's not the case," he maintained.

"I don't think it will change things massively for Bohs. They'll be in a good position when it's done. What we don't want to see is it (stadium) half-finished and left there with one stand - both clubs move in and we're waiting years for it to be fully completed.

"Probably like a lot of Shels fans, I would have a little concern that it's not a brilliant move for them.

"You're going into an area here where you're fighting with another club for sponsorship and support. Bohs have a head start in that regard.

"It's something that hasn't really been tested in this country. I know it happens in other countries with the likes of Milan sharing a stadium and it seems to go quite well.

"I'm not sure how far Shels explored the possibility of moving somewhere else or if they could even afford to do that."

Shelbourne's 2004 European campaign, in which Fenlon was manager, remains one of his most memorable moments but he also holds plenty of fond memories from before that.

"I have always had good memories at Tolka," Fenlon added. "In 1981 even when I played there U-12 when they redeveloped the lights. I remember it well because they dug a big H in the middle of the pitch because it was around the H-Block times. We thought our game was going to be cancelled but we played and I scored two goals.

"I played for Ireland 'B' there and scored against Denmark. Then I obviously had huge success with Shels there."

Irish Independent

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