Shelbourne’s first game back in the Premier Division of the Airtricity League and first league game of the 2012 season takes place in Tolka Park on Friday night with an 8pm Kick Off. Opposition on the night is provided by Sligo Rovers, conquerors of Shels in the FAI Cup Final on November 6th last.
Both sides have changed somewhat sine that day in November, with the Westerners also having new manager Ian Baraclough making his debut in this exciting encounter. At Tolka Park, manager Alan Mathews has retained 16 of last year’s panel (including the entire starting XI from the Cup Final) and added six – Glenn Cronin (ex-Bohemians), Brian Shortall (ex-St Patricks Athletic), Paddy Kavanagh (ex-Shamrock rovers), Stephen Hurley (ex- Bohemians), Paul Byrne (ex-Monaghan United) and Anto Murphy (ex-St.Patricks Athletic).
All at Tolka Park are looking forward to being back in the Premier Division with Mathews thoughts echoing their general feelings – “Personally, I’m looking forward to the new season – back in the Premier Division. Pre-season has gone well [four wins from four]and what better way to start back in the Premier than a game with Sligo. It’s a return to the Cup Final, it’s in Tolka Park – bring it on!”
Reflecting on last season, the manager comments “Our objective last year was quite clearly to achieve promotion. We feel that we left a couple of things behind us last year but that is gone. It was a great experience[FAI Cup final]. The players deserve great credit for conducting themselves on and off the pitch in the manner that they did and we're really looking forward to the year ahead.”
On the season ahead, he says “It is a huge jump and we're not going to kid ourselves. It is going to take us a little bit of time to get used to it. The pace and the tempo of the game are different and the expectation is going to be different. More importantly the players have to step up and accept this. That is what we have been talking about and working to achieve.”
“Hopefully we produce a brand of football that will get people coming back to Tolka Park, week-in and week-out, and the players continue to give a good account of themselves.”
On the playing front, Midfielder Barry Clancy is suspended following his controversial sending off in the FAI Cup Final and Alan Mathews will have a better picture of his match squad for the Sligo game, after a run out tonight (Thursday), where he will be checking up on a couple of knocks received during the week.
Form (last ten competitive games)
W L W L D W W L L W
Goal Scorers (Competetive 2012)
Conan Byrne 3 (3 LSC)
Philly Hughes 1 (1 LSC)
Goal Scorers (Pre-Season 2012)
Paul Byrne 2
Anto Murphy 2
Conan Byrne 1
Brendan McGill 1
Philly Gorman 1