by Robert O'Reilly
Drogheda United recorded their first league win in nine games as they thrashed Limerick 3-0 at Hunky Dorys Park.
Leading scorer Declan O’Brien was once again the man in form as he put the home side in front just before the interval and second half goals from brothers Gavin and Ryan capped off an impressive display against a disjointed Limerick side.
New signing Gavin Holohan was joined on the bench by the returning Eric Foley as Mick Cooke made two changes from the eleven that defeated Derry earlier in the week as Gavin and Ryan Brennan came in for Alan Byrne and Jason Marks.
Meanwhile, former Drogheda player Stuart Taylor made two enforced alterations from last week’s victory over Cork as the suspended pair of Shaun Kelly and Dave O’Leary were replaced by Shane Costello and Jason Hughes respectively.
Clearly buoyed by their semi final victory on Monday, United made the brighter start and a slick passing move involving Gavin Brennan and David Cassidy saw the former pick out O’Brien in the box but his drilled attempt was diverted wide by Barry Ryan.
The Drogs continued to mount early pressure and with ten minutes played a clever free kick from Cassidy released Cathal Brady down the right but his cross was parried by the already busy Ryan in goal.
Limerick slowly began to get a foothold in the game without threatening Drogheda Keeper Michael Schlingermann and it appeared as though the game was teetering out until half time before O’Brien struck.
A long ball out of defence from Schlingermann was headed on by Michael Daly into the path of Fabio who evaded the challenge of defender Stephen Folan to finish high into net, his 13th league goal this season.
It was almost 2-0 a couple of minutes later as Cassidy knocked the ball onto O’Brien and his shot was pushed across goal by Ryan only for Costello to clear off the line with Gavin Brennan closing in.
A quiet start to the second half saw Limerick assert some early pressure only for United to catch them on the counter attack, a harmless long ball was misjudged by Folan only for Gavin Brennan to pounce in behind and produce an excellent first time finish past the helpless Limerick netminder.
Drogheda were now in cruise control and they were awarded a penalty on 75’, a one-two between Paul O’Conor and Brady resulted in the ball landing in front of O’Brien and his first time effort was adjudged to have been handled by Robbie Williams.
Ryan Brennan produced a moment of class as his Panenka penalty gave Ryan no chance and sealed Drogheda’s first victory in the league since they last beat Limerick back in May at Thomond Park.
Limerick substitute Axel Bossekota missed an excellent opportunity to put his name on the scoresheet as with only a couple of minutes remaining he dispossessed United captain Derek Prendergast only to pull his shot horribly wide.
A comprehensive victory for United as they close the gap on the sides above them with Derry City up next on Friday at the Brandywell.
by Robert O'Reilly
Drogheda united will be looking to build on the momentum of Mondays EA Sports Cup semi final victory as take on Limerick at Hunky Dorys Park on Friday, kick off 7.45pm.
The Boynesiders progressed to their third domestic final in the space of a year thanks to a double from record goal scorer Declan O’Brien and a strike from David Cassidy sealed a 3-1 victory in the Brandywell.
Gary O’Neill will be absent for Mick Cooke’s men while Graham Rusk is a doubt with a knock. Midfielder Eric Foley remains a couple of weeks away from contention as he continues his recovery from a hernia operation.
As for Limerick, Shaun Kelly and Dave O’Leary will be unavailable due to suspensions while Shane Tracy, Pat Purcell and Steven McGann miss out due to injury.
United will be aiming to end a run of eight league games without a victory, their last coming against the blues back in May courtesy of a Paul O’Conor strike in a 1-0 win.
Limerick have been in good from since that defeat and last week’s 2-1 victory over Cork saw Stuart Taylor’s side consolidate their top half position.
A victory for united however, would see them ease fears of being dragged into a relegation battle as they sit in eight position, three points above the relegation playoff spot.
The two sides last met in Drogheda in the second week of the season as an enthralling game ended 2-2 following four penalties and two red cards.
Following two impressive results in the last week, Cooke is eager for his side to embark on a good run of form between now and the end of the season.
“The lads put in a comprehensive performance on Monday and got their rewards, I’ve been saying for the last few weeks that the lads have been playing well and maybe haven’t got what they deserved, I even felt we could have nicked a win against St Pats.
“We’ve had two really good games with Limerick this season, we were lucky to come away with a 1-0 win in Thomond and despite the game being played in terrible weather conditions it was a good spectacle.
“Their trip to Drogheda, earlier in the season, was obviously Stuart Taylor’s second game in charge and there was probably a lot of pressure on him, but in fairness since then he’s done a fantastic job and you only need to look at where they are in the table to see that.
“Limerick are another side that like to play football along with us and it should be a good match, there should be a good buzz around the ground on Friday night after the last week.
“There’s six points between us, but we have a game in hand, Friday night is a big chance to close that gap and move us back up the table. Our goal difference isn’t too bad against the teams around us. “
Derek Prendergast ©
Shane Grimes (Philip Hand 86)
Gavin Brennan (Jason Marks 89)
Declan O’Brien (Peter Hynes 81)
Joe Gamble ©
Stephen Bradley (Daragh Rainsford 80)
Jason Hughes (Axel Bossekota 66)
Danny Galbraith (Carel Tiofack 86)
Declan O’Brien (40)
Gavin Brennan (60)
Ryan Brennan (76)