herald

Thursday 17 October 2019

Shels back in the big time

Jaze Kabia and his Shelbourne teammates celebrate
Jaze Kabia and his Shelbourne teammates celebrate

On the fringes and in obscurity for so long, Shelbourne people enjoyed their spell in the national spotlight over a weekend which has raised hopes that this is a real revival of the old club.

They even had the record-breaking Dubs on their side. As Cormac Costello was being interviewed live on radio after that win over Kerry, team-mate Diarmuid Connolly broke in to shout "the Shels are going up", Costello adding that he and Connolly were "two die-hard Shels fans".

"It's great to get that kind of publicity, all that sort of stuff can only help us kick on, get bigger crowds and bigger coverage as we move on," says Shels boss Ian Morris, who marked his first season in management with a title win.

Friday's 3-1 win away to Drogheda United gifted Shels the Division One crown and a return to the Premier Division for the first time since 2014, Morris (a defender in his playing days) proud of the Reds' record of just 19 goals conceded all season.

Morris, who played in the Premier Division for Bohemians and St Patrick's Athletic before he quit playing at 31 to focus on management, knows that the step-up will be a challenge.

"There is a lot of work to do," he says. "You could have three games in a week and that's physically demanding, demanding on the club's resources. We were only training twice a week and that will have to change if we are to compete at that level, but the club will support me in what I want to do.

"We have a fantastic group here, there is a real bond between the players and supporters, you could see that in Drogheda on Friday, it was a special night."

Morris also knows what Premier Division football means to those Shelbourne people outside of his dressing room.

"I look at someone like John Reilly," says Morris. "He was at the game in Drogheda on Friday but he had no time to celebrate, he was straight away in his car to get back to Tolka Park to open up the bars for supporters, Tracey and her family who run the club shop, all those volunteers, the title win is for them."

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