18 March 2012
Hunky Dorys Park
Drogheda United 0-0 Dundalk
Match Report by Ciarán D'Arcy
Two red cards scuppered Drogheda United’s hopes of a win in Friday night’s keenly contested Louth derby.
Brian Gannon was a notable absence from the side, a strain picked up in training meant he had to sit out the match, along with last week’s casualty Stephen Quigley. Other than that, Mick Cooke had a full squad to choose from, and duly handed both Eric Foley and captain Paul Crowley their season debuts.
An enthralling game ensued, but despite the roars of a sizeable and vociferous home crowd Cooke’s team were unable to carve a clear opportunity on goal. Gavin Brennan’s ambitious effort on 10 was the closest the Drogs came to breaking the deadlock. Instead the game will be remembered for its 7 card haul, with both Foley and Crowley being given their marching orders for two bookable offences each.
The home side’s new found confidence in the aftermath of the Cork match was there for all to see as they dominated the opening proceedings.
Peter Hynes’ cross to an unmarked Philip Hand at the far post proved an opportunity spurned, as the winger directed his header harmlessly over the bar.
The first chance of note came on 10, and manifested itself from a seemingly innocuous situation. Gavin Brennan picked up the ball in midfield and embarked on a trademark menacing run towards the Dundalk defence. He then proceeded to unleash a 30 yard screamer that seemed destined for the top corner, only for an inspired Peter Cherrie to push it around the post at full stretch.
The opening period set the tone for the first half. Derek Prendergast had his second effort in two weeks cleared off the line after a Hand corner, and Gavin Brennan could only direct the rebound at the crossbar and over.
Dundalk looked toothless in attack, and it wasn’t until after the half hour mark that they registered a shot of note, Michael Rafter’s low effort bouncing comfortably into Gariel Sava’s waiting arms.
Red Mist Descends
The Lilywhites emerged reinvigorated for the second half. Chris Shields blasted his shot over on 54, before Stephen McDonnell produced a similar effort a minute later. McDonnell had his sights set by 57 as he flashed an effort at Sava from the left, as Dundalk began to gradually assume control.
Indeed, the initiative was handed to the visitors on 69 as a rash challenge from Crowley ended his night’s involvement. From the resultant free kick, Sava spread himself well to deny Rafter after an intricately worked set piece from Séan McCaffrey’s side.
It was Foley’s turn to hit the showers on 77, a cynical foul on McDonnell as he was bearing down on goal left referee Robert Rogers with little choice but to brandish a second yellow.
This gifted another dangerous free to the opposition, and a similarly well worked effort saw substitute Gareth Coughlan hammer a rasping effort at the outstretched Sava, the Drogs netminder again doing well to divert it away from goal.
The introduction of all-time top scorer Declan O'Brien along with Séan Brennan appeared to revitalise Cooke's charges, and they duly gave as good as they got in an end to end finish.
The Boynesiders forced a succession of corners as the game headed to its conclusion, but United could count themselves lucky as a powerful cross from prodigious youngster McDonnell should have been converted, but Chris Reilly could only direct his header over.
The last chance of the game presented itself to the home team on 92. Dean Marshall whipped in a cross only for perennial danger-man Gavin Brennan to float another header clear of Cherrie's goal.
Despite a much improved second half performance, Dundalk will have been much the happier of the two rivals to claim a point. The resolve that was so evident in the first two games helped Drogheda to go in search of the winning goal in spite of being reduced to nine men, and Cooke will surely be pleased that he charges once again refused to throw in the proverbial towel in the face of adversity.
The result leaves the Drogs in sixth place, still three points ahead of the Lilywhites. Next up is another eminently winnable tie as Drogheda travel to the Carlisle Grounds in Bray in search of another win.
1 Gabriel Sava
3 Philip Hand (Marshall 58)
4 Derek Prendergast
5 Alan McNally
8 Ryan Brennan
9 Tiarnán Mulvenna (D. O'Brien 74)
11 Gavin Brennan
12 Shane Grimes
15 Peter Hynes (S. Brennan 74)
16 Paul Crowley (c)
22 Eric Foley
Subs not used:
1 Peter Cherrie
2 Derek Foran
21 Nathan Murphy (Coughlan 78)
5 Liam Burns
4 Luke Danville
14 Paul Walsh (Waters 64)
6 Chris Shields (c)
16 Stephen McDonnell
8 John Mountney
7 Shane O'Neill (Reilly 82)
9 Michael Rafter
Subs not used:
Drogheda 1 (Alan McNally)
Dundalk 2 (Gareth Coughlan, Michael Rafter)
Drogheda 2 (Eric Foley, Paul Crowley)
Droghedaunited.ie Man of the Match: Gabriel Sava