Ciarán Kilduff was the hero as Shelbourne got off to a winning start with victory over Cork City at Turner's Cross last night.
A fairly even game looked to be heading for a scoreless draw in front of 3,961 when Shelbourne won a corner in the 86th minute. From a delivery by former City man Karl Sheppard, a scramble ensued, with Seán Quinn going close before Kilduff, who had a loan spell at Turner's Cross in 2013, netted from a yard out. Given that both sides are expected by many to be more concerned with relegation than challenging near the top of the table, an away victory will be gratefully received by Shels boss Ian Morris.
The hosts must regroup and face into two tough away games, against Shamrock Rovers next Friday and then Dundalk on Monday week, with manager Neale Fenn looking for his new side to gel.
Incredibly, new captain Gearóid Morrissey was the only member of the City starting 11 to have been a part of the 2017 double-winning season and back-up goalkeeper Mark McNulty was the only other member of the match-day squad to survive.
Along with Morrissey, left-back Ronan Hurley and winger Dáire O'Connor were the only other City starters from last season. Of the eight new boys, midfielder Cian Coleman - who was with Cork at underage before playing with Limerick and St Patrick's Athletic - was alone in having League of Ireland experience.
In the first half, Dayle Rooney went close for Shels early on. Cork's best half-chance in the first half came when Coleman and O'Connor drove at the Shels defence but Kyron Stabana's cross was just too high. On 44 minutes, Ryan Brennan went closest as his header came back off the post and, early in the second half, Shels looked the more likely winners.
Rooney sent a free-kick just wide after the restart and shortly after the hour-mark Seán Quinn's pass gave Kilduff sight of goal but Liam Bossin saved well. Twelve minutes from the end, Cork's Joseph Olowu was unlucky to head wide from an O'Connor cross. A 0-0 looked assured, but Kilduff had the final say.
CORK CITY - Bossin; Stabana, Olowu, Redmond, Hurley; Morrissey, Ochieng (Byrne 87, Coleman; O'Connor, Dillon (O'Brien-Whitmarsh 70), McGlade (Dalling 59).
SHELBOURNE - Brady; Friel, O'Reilly, Byrne, O'Hanlon; Sheppard, Deegan, Quinn, Rooney (Kabia 80); Brennan (Farrell 56); Kilduff.
Ref - A Reale (Kildare)