Sheridan's display may open some more doors
IT was a game that threw up a sprinkling of heroes for Shelbourne, but even if we were to accept Tony Sheridan's modest suggestion that it was the team effort that won the day, then it was clear that the young Dubliner was first among equals.
Sheridan, Ray Daffy, Stephen Geoghegan and Alan Gough all made fine contributions to their side's success, but afterwards it was the former Coventry player who was first to hurl himself into the centre ring of the media circus.
"Hopefully I did myself justice today and there will be a few scouts knocking on my door before the start of next season." Certainly he displayed enough natural talent to bring him back across the Irish sea although he was the first to admit that, when it came to his equalising goal, he had enjoyed more than a hint of good fortune.
I couldn't make up my mind whether to hit it with my right or left foot. Then when I did hit it, it sort of spooned of my foot, and I thought the keeper should have saved it."
He didn't, though, and shortly afterwards Stephen Geoghegan sealed a great day for Shelbourne with a second goal. Back in the dressing room he too cited luck as an ingredient in his glory. "I thought that Mark (Rutherford) would take a few more touches on the ball before putting it in but he just whipped it in and caught me by surprise a bit. In the end, I just threw myself at it to make sure I connected and it sailed over the keeper."
His name may not go into any statistics books for goals scored but Ray Duffy also excelled at the back for the winners, with every high bail seeming to find his head before being guided to safety.
"I have to admit that there are types of games that suit me and types that don't, but this was certainly made for me," he said afterwards. "Damien said to me beforehand that Ricky O'Flaherty's style of play would give me a chance to do something and sure enough with every high ball they played up to him, they kept making me look better and better."
Duffy felt that the decision to leave O'Flaherty up by himself had played into his side's hands somewhat given the ability of players like Mick Neville and Greg Costello to play the ball out of defence "I may not be the greatest footballer but those lads can start things going for us and they can pass all day which made it very hard for Ricky to win anything".
For all the delight of victory, however, the big 32 year old remained philosophical about the outcome. "Last year I didn't think I could have played any better but I came away empty handed, this year I was happy with the way I played again but this time I have a winners medal to show for it. Whatever will be will be. This could have easily gone the other way but you would just have to look for the positive parts of your performance and keep going forward."
His manager, meanwhile, was having no difficulty in finding positive things to point out to those willing to listen. "I think this is a great result for the League of Ireland because the manner in which we've won it shows that you can win things here by playing good football," said Damien Richardson. "People will only copy you if you're successful and hopefully what we've done today will result in other teams attempting to play the game in a more attractive way.
"We've won this cup in magnificent style. We've overcome every hurdle that has been put in our way," said the manager whose side were drawn away to Shamrock Rovers, Drogheda United, Derry City and Sligo Rovers although he was somewhat less emphatic on the subject of yesterday's encounter remarking that "the second half made up for a rather tedious first".
For St Patrick's Athletic there was, of course, terrible disappointment, with the fact that they have only just wrapped up the Championship title of little consolation on a day like this. "We won the league which was great but I suppose we just got a little bit greedy and wanted to do the double," said Eddie Gormley who was feeling the pain a bit more than most.
"To cause the goal last week and then to miss a penalty that they've scored straight from this ... I can't describe howl feel."
Brian Kerr still managed to smile in defeat and to pay tribute to the efforts of the opposition but there was some healing to be done. "Everybody said that if we lost the cup final that it still would have been a good season for us but it's a bit hard to appreciate that just now. We wanted the double.
"We made lots of mistakes in the game, though, and the injuries (to John McDonnell and Paul Osam) upset us and in the end, when you get a penalty with seven or eight minutes left like that, you should score it and go on to win it. Maybe," he concluded "their name was on the cup. It's a stupid phrase but it just does seem to have been that way this year."