Shelbourne close to cash windfall

Shelbourne are on the verge of a money-spinning clash with Portuguese club Boavista if they can overcome Malta’s Hibernians in tomorrow’s Champions League first qualifying round second leg at Tolka Park.

Shelbourne are on the verge of a money-spinning clash with Portuguese club Boavista if they can overcome Malta’s Hibernians in tomorrow’s Champions League first qualifying round second leg at Tolka Park.

The eircom League champions drew 2-2 last week in the first leg in the Ta’Qali Stadium near Valetta.

But Shelbourne player-manager Pat Fenlon is taking nothing for granted.

‘‘The two away goals we scored in Malta were a real bonus,’’ said Fenlon.

‘‘An early goal this time would really set us up. But I don’t want to hear any talk about Boavista until we complete the business against Hibernians.

‘‘It’s important that the crowd get right behind us from the start.’’

Fenlon hopes his team will even receive the support of supporters of rival clubs.

‘‘We would appeal for the support of fans from other league clubs, as has been the case in recent years at big Euro ties,’’ he added.

Central defender Kevin Doherty, who injured a rib in the first leg, is out but Barry Prenderville will come in.

Striker Stephen Geoghegan again misses out as he serves the last game of a three-match ban after being sent off against Brondby in last season’s UEFA Cup tie.

Shelbourne will rely heavily on the strike force of new signing Marc Roberts, from Airdrie, and Trevor Molloy, who joined from Bohemians, providing they receive an adequate supply of crosses from wingers Richie Baker and Ollie Cahill.

Beaten 5-0 by Manchester United in a pre-season friendly last Saturday, Shelbourne will be back at full strength having rested several players for that game because of the Hibernians tie.

Fenlon is again happy to keep his place on the substitutes’ bench because of Jim Gannon and Stuart Byrne both being available in midfield.

Having endured the heat and humidity of Malta last week, the player-manager is quietly confident about he outcome.

‘‘It will be a difficult game - but we have the incentive of that tie against Boavista Portugal next week,’’ said Fenlon.

‘‘There is a lot of money at stake and that’s important for the club. We have to be confident that we are strong enough to finish the job at Tolka.’’

Hibernians boss Robert Gatt, the former caretaker Maltese national coach, refuses to throw in the towel despite his side being second favourites.

‘‘Our preparations have been thorough and professional,’’ he said.

‘‘I believe my team still have a 49% chance and we will give it our best effort,’’ he added.

The Maltese will be without midfielder Miguel Mifsud, who decided to stay at home as his wife is expecting a baby.

Barry Town manager Kenny Brown has warned his players to avenge their Latvian humiliation tomorrow night - or risk being booted out of the Welsh champions.

The Welsh minnows were thrashed 5-0 in the first leg by Skonto Riga last week and Brown has called on his troops to at least salvage some pride tomorrow night at Jenner Park.

Brown insists the club are geared towards European football and was dismayed by last week’s performance - claiming he may rethink his squad if displays do not improve.

He said: ‘‘I am looking for players who can play Champions League football, not just League of Wales.’’

Brown admitted the club and players had made no progress since last season.

‘‘I have geared the whole close season around our European encounter. Barry are not made of money but our players might have to pay the biggest price, because I am determined not to stand for a repeat performance at home.

‘‘We are a professional team so players while accepting praise when they do well must also accept criticism when they fail.’’

Portadown manager Ronnie McFall takes his side to Belshina Bobruisk looking to make the second round after a 0-0 draw in the home leg.

But McFall will be without several key players for the second leg in Belarus, particularly in defence.

Right-back Stephen Douglas he is on holiday and central defender Cullen Feeney is out until November following an operation on a broken shoulder.

McFall had signed John Convery during the close season but the player’s absence from pre-season training has left the manager turning to veteran Philip Major.

But McFall could look to 17-year-old Philip Gray to partner Neil Ogden in the centre of defence.

With midfielder Richard Clarke on honeymoon McFall welcomes back former Leeds United player Wesley Boyle who missed the first leg with ligament damage.

Dean Fitzgerald returns to midfield after breaking his shin bone in April.

But it is to his experienced front duo that McFall will be looking to fire his side into the next round.

Former Blackburn Rovers striker Gary Hamilton scored 18 goals last season and Vinny Arkins has topped the scoring charts in Northern Ireland for the last four years.

McFall also has forward Peter McCann available. The under-21 international plays wide on the right but has proved potent in front of goal.

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