Last weekend we saw the First Division of the SSE Airtricity League Kick Off. It followed on a week after the Premier League had sucessfully kicked off with quite a few super games. One club who will be hoping to put up a good challenge for promotion this season are the lads from Tolka Park, Shelbourne FC. This is a club who over the past few years have had some difficult times both on and off the field. Quite recently the club has been looking for potential investors to give them the finances to try and mount a challenge to get the club back into the top tier of Irish football where they truly belong. The board of management are completely behind finding an investor but at this stage are not prepared to mention any names as it would break any confidentiality agreement with the second party. Shelbourne have a huge fan base and these fans are long overdue the good bragging rights for the Monday morning tea break in work, but without any financial input into the club, it could be a while before the dream is realised. The off the field business has absolutely nothing to do with manager Owen Heary and his players but it would help things to go forward if his side can mount a good challenge this season, as we all know it is easier to attract investors when things look like they are going well and are already on the up.
The Reds first game of this years campaign was away to UCD in a Dublin Derby, this UCD side will be one of the huge favourites to get promotion, so a good start for Shelbourne was a must. On the night it turned out to be a super game but Shelbourne lost out by the odd goal in three. Tim Molloy was the home sides hero when he scored the winner in the sixty fourth minute. The home side had been losing after James English gave Shelbourne the lead after twenty seven minutes when he put away a superb Rooney cross, the goal in fairness came totally against the run of play as UCD had been the far better side in the early exchanges. Shelbourne manager Owen Heary had handed debuts to David O’ Sullivan and Dave Mulcahy and both put in a good shift for there boss and will no doubt get better as the season goes along once they settle into their new surroundings. The opening goal had rocked the home side but once manager O’ Neill had got them in at half time and reorganised, there was only going to be one winner. UCD managed to pull level in the fiftieth minute when a fantastic run down the wing by Liam Scales led to a cross which Greg Sloggett hammered home. The winning goal came from Molloy who finished off a move which saw Georgie Kelly,s initial shot come back off the post. Shelbourne huffed and puffed after falling behind and should have equalised when a James English header landed in the goalkeepers arms, although it looked easier to score. The dying moments of the game saw Shelbourne pile on the pressure but alas it was not to be. Although it is not always nice to start a season with a defeat, the players can hold their heads high as they mounted a gallant effort to try and snatch a point.
Going forward, things look good on the pitch for Shelbourne as manager Owen Heary has his team playing a very attractive style of football and if they persist the winning results will come. Looking from a UCD perspective they have to be extremely happy with putting one over on a team that could well be competing for promotion place later on in the campaign, we will just have to wait and see.