by Robert O'Reilly
Shamrock Rovers came out on top in a five-goal thriller as they defeated a spirited Drogheda United 3-2 at United Park.
Ronan Finn fired the visitors in front on eleven minutes before Gavin Brennan drew Drogheda level but second-half goals from Eamon Zayed and Ciaran Kilduff were enough for the three points despite Philip Hughes’ late consolation.
Rovers started the game in the ascendancy and only a last-ditch intervention from Shane Grimes halted Zayed’s run on goal.
The first shot in anger of the game produced the opening goal as Finn was afforded too much space by the United midfield and his powerful finish from 20-yards gave David Ryan no chance in the Drogheda goal.
Drogheda responded well to going behind and should have levelled instantly as Cathal Brady got beyond the Rovers left-back Sean Heaney and his cross was met by the head of Gary O’Neill but the striker was unable to keep his effort on target.
O’Neill atoned for his miss a couple of minutes later as he got goal side of Conor Kenna only for the Hoops captain to pull him down inside the box for a penalty. Having missed against Cork last week, Brennan made no mistake as his spot-kick went in via the left-hand post.
Brennan could have put the home side in front on 35 minutes as he connected with Daly’s deep delivery but his looping header crashed off the bar and into the grateful hands of Rovers goalkeeper Barry Murphy.
The visitors started the second half in rapid fashion and they retook the lead on 51 minutes. Kilduff passed to Simon Madden and the right-back delivered an inch-perfect cross to Zayed, as the former Drogheda player headed past Ryan.
Rovers struck again just two minutes later as a quick counter-attack from the Hoops saw Zayed miss-control the ball and following a couple of deflections in the penalty area, kilduff’s weak effort found its way into the bottom corner for 3-1 despite calls for offside.
The two goals in quick succession took the wind out of Drogheda’s sails as they struggled to create many chances of note against a compact Rovers defense.
United came close to pulling a goal back on 84 minutes as Brennan’s corner-kick was met by the head of Alan McNally with the frame of the goal denying the home side once again.
Drogheda did pull a goal back with a couple of minutes remaining as O’Neill picked out the run of substitute Hughes, who worked a yard of space before firing past Murphy.
Despite three minutes of additional time, United were unable to create another chance on goal as Rovers hung on to a hard earned three points.
The result sees Drogheda fall to eight in the table after a fourth straight defeat, as they will complete the first round of league fixtures away to UCD next Friday.
by Robert O'Reilly
Drogheda United will be aiming to end a run of three consecutive defeats as they welcome Shamrock Rovers to United Park on Friday, kick-off 7.45pm.
Drogheda’s recent run of poor form has seen them slip down the table, culminating with an emphatic 4-0 reversal to St. Patrick’s Athletic last Monday.
United remain fifth in the table, mainly owing to their bright start to the campaign, but trail the visitors in fourth by five points.
Michéal Schlingermann and Austin McCann will again be missing for the home side while Eric Foley will be out for a fortnight after he sustained ligament damage in his ankle during the defeat to St. Pat’s.
As for the visitors, Shamrock Rovers will be coming into the game in good spirits following a competitive 2-1 victory over Bray Wanderers, a result the keeps the Hoops in touch with the early pacesetters.
Rovers manager Trevor Croly will be without Dean Kelly and Sean O’Connor for the trip to Drogheda as both are missing due to injury.
The Hoops have dominated this fixture in recent years as they ran 3-0 winners last season at United Park while also conquering Drogheda in both the EA Sports and Setanta finals.
Speaking ahead of the game, Drogheda United manager Robbie Horgan expressed his disappointment with Monday’s performance while stating that his side is good to end this poor run of form.
“I thought for the opening 35 minutes against St. Pat’s that there was nothing in the game. Like any good team, as soon as we made a mistake they were ready to punish us for it. That was a blow but the second goal really hurt us and sometimes you concede goals that you can’t do anything about and hats off to Chris Forrester. With that type of advantage, they were able to play their style of football easier and with more confidence. We huffed and puffed in the second half without really creating anything and St. Pat’s ran out deserved winners.
“I was a little bit worried on Monday that certain heads did drop as things started to go against us. We have looked at the video analysis of the game and the players can see where we went wrong. This team is very capable of turning this dip in form around.
“I think time will tell as to how well Shamrock Rovers will do this season. I can see the vision that Trevor Croly has for the side with the players that have come in this season. There have been a lot of changes in Tallaght over the last few years so to really be successful, Trevor will need some time but whether you get that time remains to be seen. They have had a bright start to the season and I expect them to be challenging for the honours come the end of the year.
“We are always confident of picking up a result. It is important that we put an end to this slide having gone undefeated for the first six games. I think a draw would probably be a good result for us given our recent form but we go out to every game with the intention of picking up a win and Friday will be no different.”
Cathal Brady (Carl Walshe 73)
Stephen Maher (Paul Crowley 82)
Declan O’Brien (Philip Hughes 73)
Conor Kenna (Robert Cornwall 73)
Sean Heaney (Luke Byrne 46)
Gary McCabe (Kieran ‘Marty’ Waters 64)
Gavin Brennan pen.(23)
Phillip Hughes (88)
Ronan Finn (11)
Eamon Zayed (51)
Ciaran Kilduff (54)
Declan O’Brien, Stephen Maher, Ciaran McGuigan
Conor Kenna, Jason McGuinness