Sheridan earns the final plaudits


WHO said finals, by their nature, have to be anti climactic? Yesterday's FAI Harp Lager Cup final replay had pretty much everything. Best of all, Shelbourne won it with their own inimitable style. A yawn of a first half, a rollercoaster of a second. Old adages came flooding back; sequels are better than originals, "their name was on the cup" and "it's a "funny old game isn't it."

For Shelbourne then, a fifth cup win from 14 final appearances - they are only the third team to complete the FAI Cup/League Cup double. "The most important is that we did it with style," said Shelbourne manager Damien Richardson.

For St Patrick's, this was their first defeat in 24 games and five months. They have proved themselves the best team in the country where it matters most in the league.

But this was Shelbourne's day and Brian Kerr magnanimously conceded, that overall, "they deserved it."

Drawn away to Premier opposition in every round, a keeper, a player and a goal down in the original, a goal down in the replay - most teams would surely have buckled at some point. A big game team then, with Richardson quickly looking further afield to the European Cup Winners' Cup in August.

"We have to start making progress in Europe, that's the big test for all League of Ireland clubs."

Heroes there were aplenty. Goalkeeper Alan Gough, Man of the Match and equaliser Tony Sheridan, along with the match winner who seems to understand him best, Stephen Geoghegan.

Richardson added to the justifiable clamour for Sheridan's inclusion in the Republic of Ireland squad, not just as a fillip to the wayward genius, but also to the rest of the domestic game.

Sheridan himself said: "Last week was a special day but this is a very special day because it's my first trophy of any kind that I've won. Of his striking partner, Geoghegan: "I don't know what he's doing here to be honest. He should be playing in the English Premiership or the First Division."

Too right, but their loss is Shelbourne's and our gain and the club's future looks rosy. They play the football that could take them a round or two in Europe.