| 6.3°C Dublin

Shels draw first blood on return

APPROPRIATELY, this overdue renewal of Dublin's oldest derby was a triumph for experience.

They don't like losing around Dalymount Park, but the natives showed understanding at the final whistle, giving a generous ovation to Aaron Callaghan's young Bohemians side who will certainly learn from this. The Gypsies were the better side for long spells, particularly in the first half, yet it was an older, battle-hardened Shelbourne team that came away with the spoils.

It had been six years since the last league meeting between these rivals, a time when they held the balance of the power in the capital and fought out title races.

Financial realities mean their ambitions are different now, with survival the priority. They could do with playing in front of crowds like this every week to aid that mission.

The attendance and atmosphere enhanced a game that was, at times, agricultural. Callaghan spoke in the programme about the need to change the culture at the club and encourage a passing style of play but, while there were tidy players on show, it was a night for old-fashioned determination and aggression.

Bohs started better, and an imposing run from full-back Luke Byrne resulted in a cross that Dinny Corcoran could not convert with his head.

Corcoran found good positions in the first half, but misfired when it came to applying the killer touch, a lack of conviction in the final third that extended to his team-mates.

The profligacy was punished when Shelbourne struck clinically in the 21st minute. Alan Mathews was without the services of hamstring victim David Cassidy, who he generally uses as a creative force behind lone striker Philip Hughes. Winter recruit Paddy Kavanagh was deployed in that role, and made his mark in spectacular fashion.

The ex-Shamrock Rovers man won possession as the Bohs defence dithered and cut inside Evan McMillan before unleashing a shot that sailed past Craig Sexton and into the roof of the net.

Bohs, who lost defender Derek Pender just before kick-off, regrouped, and almost levelled on the stroke of half-time when the sprightly Karl Moore shaved the post with an effort that left Shels 'keeper Dean Delany rooted to the spot.

Delany -- a survivor from 2006 -- was a prominent figure in the period following the resumption as the hosts continued to take the initiative. Still, the netminder was sweeping up rather than being called into serious action.

After a late concession in Tolka last week cost Shels a victory at home to Sligo, this was another test of their ability to close out a game.

They stood firm here, and sensing that his team had lost their way, Callaghan made a double switch in the 69th minute which revolved around the introduction of a second striker, Davie Byrne, to support Corcoran.

Shels capitalised on the reshuffle by adding another goal almost immediately. Again, Kavanagh was the catalyst, wriggling into space outside the box and releasing a shot that was too hot for Sexton to handle. Hughes reacted quickest to convert the rebound.

Bohs had no option then but to throw caution to the wind. However, there was still a shortage of conviction in important areas. The best opening was a laboured move that resulted in Moore firing into the side-netting.

Shels saw out the clock with a composure that hinted at better things to come. When the pain of defeat eases, Callaghan's charges can also accentuate the positives and look forward with optimism.

Bohemians -- Sexton, Heary, Feely, McMillan, L Byrne (D Byrne 69); Moore, McEvoy (Mulcahy 69), Joyce, Lopes, Wilson (Davidson 77); Corcoran

Shelbourne -- Delany, Matthews, Boyle, Ryan, Fitzgerald; McGill (Murphy 81), Cronin, Hurley, Byrne; Kavanagh; Hughes (Gorman 84)

Ref -- A Kelly (Cork)

Irish Independent