by Robert O'Reilly
Despite taking the lead twice, Drogheda United were eliminated from the Leinster Senior Cup following a dramatic penalty shootout against Longford Town at a wet and windy United Park.
Lee Duffy’s deflected strike gave the Boynesiders a deserved lead on 58 minutes but Longford pegged them back twelve minutes later through Gary Shaw’s near post tap in.
It looked as though Drogheda had sealed victory when Jason Marks pounced late on but a fortuitous strike from Shaw again resulted in extra time and the resulting penalties.
The First Division champions started on the front foot and with a quarter of an hour played Ayman Ben Mohamed worked a yard of space out wide before whipping in an inch perfect cross for the head of David O’Sullivan but the prolific striker missed the target from ten yards.
Drogheda squandered an even better chance to take the lead with a half hour played as Sean Brennan burst past two defenders before firing in a deflected drive that fell kindly into the path of Marks but Paul Hunt was quick off his line to deny the winger.
The hosts created another excellent opening after the break as Brennan slotted Duffy through but he shot straight at Hunt with the goal at his mercy though the winger made amends moments later as his deflected volley from a short corner wrong footed the otherwise excellent Hunt.
Their lead wasn’t to last long though as De Town scored against the run of play on 70 minutes as a low ball in from Martin Deady was slotted home by Shaw at the near post.
United regained the advantage in a frantic ending as with five minutes left on the clock the impressive Duffy dibbled through the Longford defence only to see his goal bound shot parried by Hunt which left Marks with the simple task of slotting into an empty net.
Longford refused to give up and they were rewarded in the final minute of the game as Shaw blocked down Stephen Maher’s delayed clearance and the ball looped over Michéal Schlingermann in the United goal to send the game into extra time.
An eventful yet scoreless 30 minutes ensued and it was Hunt who once again emerged as the hero as his save from Joe Gorman’s spot kick sent Longford through 5-4 on penalties.
Sean Thornton (Shane Dunne 80)
Sean Brennan (Tiarnan Mulvenna 100)
Michael Scott (Carl Walshe 75)
Ayman Ben Mohamed (Lorcan Shannon 78)
Stephen Rice (Rhys Gorman 46)
David O’Sullivan (Don Cowan 66)
Lee Duffy (58)
Jason Marks (85)
Gary Shaw (70, 88)