Shelbourne became eircom League champions at Tolka Park last night in the most unspectacular of circumstances.
Their hopes of winning the title on the pitch looked remote after they failed to take three points at home last night.
This was the fourth consecutive league game Shels have played at Tolka Park and when they started they had control of their own destiny.
Seven points out of a possible 12 is usually a poor return for a title-chasing team - however that is irrelevant now that late last night St Pat's were deducted 15 points and Shels became champions. Shels Chief Executive Ollie Byrne said after the game: "It's a sad day for football and it's not a proud way to win a title. But the most important thing is on two occasions, St Pat's have made mistakes and it is within their own organisation that they should look."
Earlier, so concerned was Byrne that his side were going into this game under a cloud of indecision over the Livingstone affair that he held an impromptu boardroom press conference to announce that they were playing this game under protest. Dermot Keely made just one change from the side which beat Shamrock Rovers last week. Centre-half Kevin Doherty was ruled out through injury so Jonathon Minnock came in at left-back and Barry Prederville moved to partner Tony McCarthy in defence.
Even though UCD are safe there was never chance that they were going to come to Tolka and go through the motions. Anybody who knows Paul Doolin would testify to that. They started brightly and almost opened the scoring in the 21st minute when top scorer Robert Martin cut in from the left and forced a point blank reflex save from Steve Williams. After seeing Peter Hutton go close early on, Shelbourne had to wait until the final ten minutes of the first half before they again found a way though the steadfast UCD defence. Jim Crawford and Jonathon Minnock both went close but it was the miss by winger Richie Baker that had the Shels fans with their heads in their hands. A through ball from Pat Fenlon had sent Baker clear on goal but he failed to hit the target from 15 yards as he blasted his volley past the near post.
UCD continued to frustrate Shelbourne in the second half and Barry Ryan comfortably dealt with long range efforts from Crawford and Stephen Geoghegan. College always looked dangerous on the break. Doolin released Mick O'Donnell down the left but as the UCD winger homed in on goal he tripped over his own feet. For the final ten minutes Dermot Keely threw on Martin Gitton and Wesley Hoolihan as Shels threw bodies forward and it took magnificent saves from Ryan to keep out Jim Gannon and Gitton. At the final whistle the Shels faces told their own story about their performances on the field. The news off the pitch however was much better.
UCD:Ryan, Mahon, McAuley, Doolin, Delaney, Purdy, Quinn, McNally, R Martin, Martyn, O'Donnell. Subs: McDonnell for Purdy (half-time), Grogan for Martin (86 mins).
Shelbourne:Williams; Heary, Minnock, McCarthy, Hutton, Prenderville, Crawford, Fenlon, B Byrne, Geoghegan, R Baker. Subs: Gannon for Minnock (60 mins), Gritton for Byrne (81 mins), Houlihan for Geoghegan (81 mins)
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