Shamrock Rovers cruised to the 2013 Setanta Sports Cup by hammering Drogheda United 7-1 at Tallaght stadium.
Goals from James Chambers, Sean O’Connor and Karl Sheppard put Rovers 3-0 up at half time before braces from Ronan Finn and Billy Dennehy made it a magnificent seven for the Hoops while Gary O’Neill scored a consolation goal for the overwhelmed visitors.
Graham Rusk was the surprise selection as he was chosen ahead of Declan O’Brien on the right wing while there was no place in the squad for either Eric Foley or Peter Hynes.
Shamrock Rovers manager Trevor Croly opted to start Karl Sheppard up front ahead of a five man midfield with Danny Ledwith slotting in at left back in place of the injured Conor Powell.
Drogheda started the brighter, forcing a corner inside the opening sixty seconds of the game, but Rovers soon took control.
With only twelve minutes on the clock, they hit the front in fortunate circumstances. A corner from the left was cleared but the second ball in from O’Connor was met by Gavin Brennan who inadvertently headed the ball against the shoulder of Chambers and past the diving Gabriel Sava.
United were clearly rocked by the early concession and things went from the bad to worse two minutes later. Good combination play between Dennehy and Danny Ledwith saw the latter cross to the backpost where Shane Grimes failed to control the ball and Sean O’Connor forced the ball home from a narrow angle.
Drogheda managed their first attempt in anger on 20 minutes as a right footed cross from the left by Gavin Brennan was met by his brother Ryan but he headed over the bar under pressure from Ledwith.
The Drogheda players and fans were growing increasingly frustrated with referee Rob Rogers when Ryan Brennan was clearly fouled on the edge of the box with no decision from the official only for Prendergast to be booked for a foul on Sheppard seconds later.
The game was all but over as a contest on the stroke of half time as slick passing from Rovers saw Ronan Finn release Sheppard with a wonderful throughball and he finished underneath the onrushing Sava for 3-0.
In first half stoppage time, Pat Sullivan was cautioned for a tackle from behind on Gavin Brennan and despite confronting the referee and being restrained by several of his teammates, he avoided a second yellow card.
There was faint hope of an Istanbul-esque comeback as Rovers ran riot early again in the second half. Ronan Finn scored twice in the space of a minute, his second goal saw him turn two Drogheda defenders insideout before Sava parried the ball into the net for 5-0.
United appeared more cohesive with the introduction of Declan O’Brien as they reverted back to 4-4-2 and they scored a consolation goal as Ryan Brennan’s cross was headed onto the bar by David Cassidy and Gavin Brennan’s rebound was tapped home by Gary O’Neill to the delight of the large travelling crowd.
Indeed, United really should have scored a second minutes later as clever interplay between Gavin Brennan and Grimes presented O’Neill with a free header at the backpost but he somehow failed to test Barry Murphy in the Rovers goal.
An injury to Brian Gannon saw the introduction of Alan McNally as United went three at the back and this disruption resulted in the sixth goal, as McNally played Dennehy onside and he rolled the ball past Sava at the second attempt.
A horrific performance by the Drogs was compounded in the 87’ minute as a harmless shot across goal from Gary McCabe was capitalised on by Dennehy who made it seven heaven for the hoops as they clinched their second Setanta Sports Cup in style.
A humiliating defeat for United will have to be swiftly forgotten as they look to get their league campaign back on track starting away to Limerick on Tuesday.
Shamrock Rovers: Barry Murphy,Pat Sullivan, Derek Foran, Jason McGuinness, Daniel Ledwith, Sean O’Connor (Ciaran Kilduff 71’), Ronan Finn, Stephen Rice ©, James Chambers, Billy Dennehy, Karl Sheppard (Mark Quigley 60’ (Gary McCabe 77’)).
Substitutes not used: Richard Brush, David Elebert, Conor McCormack, Shane Robinson.
Drogheda United Team: Gabriel Sava, Brian Gannon (Alan McNally 72’), Derek Prendergast ©, Alan Byrne, Shane Grimes, Graham Rusk (Declan O’Brien 60’), David Cassidy, Michael Daly (Paul O’Conor 60’), Ryan Brennan, Gavin Brennan, Gary O’Neill.
Substitutes Not Used: Michael Schlingermann, Phillip Hand, Cathal Brady, Stephen Quigley.
Booked: Rovers: Stephen Rice, Pat Sullivan. Drogheda: Michael Daly, Ryan Brennan, Gavin Brennan, Derek Prendergast, David Cassidy.