It’s mid-August, and this Friday’s game against UCD sees Shelbourne reach a particularly important juncture in the season. Following our bye week, afforded due to the untimely demise of Monaghan United, we sit comfortably in 6th place a good winning-streak away from the coveted European and Setanta Cup places. A win this weekend for the Reds could be the catalyst for a late season surge for a top 4/5 finish, whereas anything less than 3 points will surely condemn us to a lower half finish what with a tough run of fixtures on the horizon.
The previous meeting between the sides produced arguably Shels best performance of the campaign to date and although the Students should never be taken lightly, surely a similar display to that of Belfield in May will see the three points winging their way to Tolka. The imminent return of Glenn Cronin from injury will be a massive boost for the shirts and will add some much needed steel in the centre of midfield. We’ll need to him to be on top of his game to shackle the likes of Paul Corry and Paul O’ Conor. Kev Dawson has come into his own in recent months, but Daws always excels when he has a ball-winner alongside him in there to do a lot of the graft.
As someone on the forum pointed out recently, we’ve yet to see a back four of Shortall- Boyle-Paisley-Fitzgerald turn out for the Reds. This is arguably our strongest back line and at this rate surely deserves an outing to shore up our leaky defence. Continuity, or a lack thereof, has been the key to our defensive problems all year. Changing your back four every week or every second week is bound to cause confusion, consternation and a lack of cohesion especially in the Premier Division against a higher calibre forward. With a bit of luck, these four will get a run together as we enter the business end of the season.
On another note, it seems Dean Delany has been unfairly scapegoated yet again by the manager. We all know at this stage Deano is persona non grata with Mathews, but surely Delany represents a more stable and reliable choice between the sticks for the remainder of the season ahead of the hapless Skinner or the erratic, error-prone Bennion. Yes, Delany has made a few errors over the past 12 months- but dropping him every time he does so only serves to undermine the confidence of our number 1. And yet, the other keepers in our squad seem to be afforded more patience when it comes to making mistakes.
One thing you can be sure of; the Reds won’t make it easy for themselves. A start like the last time the sides met, however, will ease the nerves somewhat and hopefully give us the platform to go on and emerge victorious.
Enjoy the game.