Different Ball Game-A look back at the last Bluebell Shels latter stage cup clash

18 years after Shelbourne denied them a place in the FAI Cup semi final Bluebell have finally got a shot at revenge.

‘Bell travel to Tolka Park tonight and take on the famous Dublin club with a place in the Leinster Senior Cup final at stake.

It’s the first time the side meet at the business end of a cup competition since the Red Cow side gave Shels the fright of their life back in the year 2000.

Bluebell were enjoying a great cup run in the first season of the new century, but any hopes of a St Francis repeat seemed to be dashed when they drew champions Shelbourne in the quarter finals.

However, the LSL side, who were then managed by Ken Gibbons, managed to take a side with the Baker brothers, Owen Heary, Stephen Geoghegan and Pat Fenlon into a replay.

A draw saw Bluebell earn a second trip to Tolka Park and the Senior Sunday outfit once again gave a good account of themselves in an FAI Cup quarterfinal.

“Having done so well on Saturday to earn this second visit to Tolka Park, Bluebell United finally bowed out of this year’s Harp Lager FAI Cup leaving Shelbourne to join Bohemians, Bray Wanderers and Galway United in next Monday’s draw for the semi-finals.

“It was another strong display by Ken Gibbons’ team who did a great deal to justify Dermot Keely’s assessment before the first match that they would be capable of coping in the National League’s First Division,” wrote Emmet Malone in an article entitled ‘Bluebell heroics not enough as class tells in the end’.

The then best team in the Premier Division managed to win by the odd goal in three. Strikes from James Keddy and Tony McCarthy outweighed Bluebell’s one effort from Paul McGovern on the night.

No doubt Bluebell and amateur football as a whole took great pride in the performances split over 180 minutes. Shelbourne were the top dogs at the time and the massive underdogs gave them a real fight.

Bluebell may well be underdogs going into tonight’s semi final clash with the reigning champions, but there are those who will argue they have more bite and a better chance of drawing blood than their 2000 counterparts.

Not because they are significantly better than those that went before, but because Shels are not the force of 18 years ago.

The Senior Sunday champions would be confident of competing in the LOI First Division, current home of Shels and certainly won’t take solace or a moral victory from a close defeat tonight.
Saturday 4th March 2000-

Bluebell United travel to Tolka Park to face top of the table Shelbourne FC and earn a replay to be played the following Wednesday. The final result was 2-1 Shels.


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