Bohemians 0 Shelbourne 3
The Shelbourne renaissance under Johnny McDonnell began in earnest at Dalymount Park as the Reds comfortably despatched ten man Bohemians, securing their first league win since early May, with Dean Kelly becoming the first Shels player to score more than once in a league game this season.
A goal from man of the match Sean Brennan was sandwiched between two Kelly strikes to deliver Shels' first away win of the campaign, but in truth the most influential moment of the match came in the 32nd minute when Derek Pender was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Darren Tinnelly.
Bohemians were only a goal behind at that stage and while Shels did have the better of the opening exchanges, Gypsies boss Aaron Callaghan will feel that his side could have fought their way back into the game had they kept 11 men on the field. As it was, Shels took full advantage, rendering a late Niall Burdon save from a Chris Lyons penalty irrelevant.
Bohs have now failed to score in their last four games in all competitions, with three of those being at home, while they have only won two of their nine home games in the league this season - this despite picking up impressive points away to St. Patrick's Athletic, Shamrock Rovers and champions Sligo Rovers.
Callaghan must have been hoping his side could transfer that away day determination to Dalymount, but it wasn't until it was too late that they really troubled Burdon in the Shelbourne goal.
The result still leaves the Tolka Park outfit at the foot of the table but there are now only five points between themselves and relegation rivals Bohs and UCD going into the midseason break, though the Students do not play until tomorrow night against Sligo.
And it was in front of watching Bit O'Red boss Ian Baraclough and his assistant Gary Stevens that Shels took the lead in the seventh minute. Sean Brennan showed some deft footwork in the middle of the park to evade two tackles before skipping through Owen Heary's weak challenge and racing clear to calmly slot the ball home.
Not long after, Bohs lost Roberto Lopes after he and Stephen Hurley contested a 50/50 in the middle of the park. Ciaran Nangle replaced him and he was soon trying to subdue the lively Darren Tinnelly as he sought to take on Pender at every opportunity.
The 22 year old is normally a striker but he was causing Bohs numerous problems down the left hand side, a one-two with Philly Hughes allowing him to switch the ball wide to Kelly who dithered too long, losing the impetus of the counter-attack.
A Dave Mulcahy foul on Jack Memory then caused uproar amongst the Reds support as well as the players, but referee Tomas Connolly opted only to warn Mulcahy of his future conduct. This decision would look strange four minutes later.
Tinnelly feinted to go by Pender but the latter's tackle caught the winger late. Again there was uproar amongst the Shels ranks as Connolly marched over. To the astonishment of nearly everybody in red and black, the referee produced a straight red card, leaving Pender livid. It certainly seemed a harsh call given that Mulcahy's challenge moments before wasn't much different from his team-mate's.
And things went from bad to worse two minutes later as Bohs shipped a poor second goal, with veteran centre-back Heary culpable of a schoolboy error.
Brennan's cross from the right should have been easily dealt with by the Bohs skipper but a communication breakdown between himself and goalkeeper Dean Delaney meant he allowed it to bounce in the box and over his head where Kelly was liveliest to gleefully head home. The ensuing inquest from Delaney was met with a dismissive wave of the hand by Heary.
Callaghan's thought they had a penalty when a Kevin Devaney run was halted by a combination of Ian Ryan and Pat Flynn, but Connolly was quite close to it and simply waved play on - strange, seeing that if it wasn't a penalty it must surely have been deemed a dive, in which case he would have had to book Devaney. One for MNS, perhaps.
Bohs surprisingly began to retain more possession despite being a man less and it was Devaney who had the Gypsies' first real shot of note just before half time - he latched onto Karl Moore's exquisite scooped pass but he never got hold of the shot and Burdon saved comfortably.
However, Bohs lost the little momentum they had built up before the break and in the 53rd minute Kelly made sure of McDonnell's first win as Shelbourne boss at the third attempt.
Hughes collected the ball just outside the semi-circle and as the Bohs backline stood off, he slipped a through ball in for Kelly to chase. It seemed Luke Byrne was favourite to get there first but a crucial slip saw Kelly win the race and he finished with aplomb to make it 3-0.
It was unfortunate for the young defender as he had exhibited composure beyond his years at times during the game, but the mistake seemed to rattle him as moments later he miscued a clearance under pressure from Kelly again.
From there on, Shels maintained their discipline - not a sentence often associated with the Reds this season - as they attempted to see out the game. Tinnelly was still a menace and in the 70th minute he created a glorious opportunity for Hughes to end his goal drought but Delaney somehow saved the striker's point blank header, who must now be wondering where his next goal is going to come from.
The ball fell to Shels skipper Glen Cronin at the edge of the penalty area but his first time strike was deflected to Tinnelly who tried to be too cute with his finish and simply passed the ball into the diving body of Delaney.
Nine minutes later and Bohs were awarded a penalty when Burdon upended Moore. As Moore was heading away from goal the goalkeeper was allowed to stay on the pitch, though with Connolly's inconsistent decision making a few may have wondered if he would produce another red. As it was, Burdon was allowed to face Chris Lyons and it was the Bohs striker who blinked first, his spot-kick fired straight down middle saved by the knees of Burdon.
There was time for McDonnell to give new signing Gareth O'Connor his début as a late sub at his former club and for Moore to sting the palms of Burdon once more with a fierce long range drive, but it wasn't a night where anything went Bohs' way.
Aaron Callaghan's side will have to wait until after the midseason break for a chance to rectify this defeat. As for Johnny McDonnell and the Shelbourne fans, they may be seeing a lining in the clouds.
Bohemians: Dean Delaney; Derek Pender, Owen Heary, Roberto Lopes (Ciaran Nangle, 15 mins), Luke Byrne; Keith Buckley, Dave Mulcahy (Stephen Traynor, 56 mins), Ryan McEvoy, Karl Moore; David Scully, Kevin Devaney (Chris Lyons, 73 mins). Subs not used: Greg Murray, Michael Barker, Michael Scott, Shane Murray.
Booked/sent off: Karl Moore (62 mins), Keith Buckley (89 mins)/Derek Pender (32 mins).
Shelbourne: Niall Burdon; Pat Flynn, Graham Gartland, Ian Ryan, Jack Memory (Brian Shorthall, 78 mins); Sean Brennan, Glen Cronin, Stephen Hurley, Darren Tinnelly; Phillip Hughes (Gareth O'Connor, 87 mins), Dean Kelly (Mark Leech, 66 mins). Subs not used: Ger Hanley, Adam Hanlon, Craig Mooney, Jake Donnelly.
Booked/sent off: Jack Memory (21 mins)/none.
Ref: Tomas Connolly
LFWCD Man of the match: Sean Brennan
MATCH STATS (Bohemians/Shelbourne):