Drogheda United 0 Shamrock Rovers 6 (S. Dixon 3, P. Moffat. G. Comerford, D. Ebbe)
Enda McGuill Memorial Cup, First Round 22nd January 2012 at Hunky Dorys Park
The previous meeting between these two teams at Tallaght Stadium resulted in a 2-1 win for the Drogs. The Hoops felt they had a point to prove going into the cup game in Drogheda and they certainly managed to prove it on the day. Drogheda ‘keeper Shane Finnegan played a blinder when the teams met in the league game back in October but at Hunky Dory’s Park poor Shane was kept busy in taking the ball out of the back of the net!
It wasn’t until the sixth minute of the game that the first shot was witnessed and that was when Lorcan Shannon put Finnegan to the test. The Hoops had a let off at the other end when ‘keeper Lee Stacey struck a clearance directly off the body of Drogs’ Keith Boyle and the ball almost went into the net. However, the opening goal came very quickly after that when the ball bounced in the box from a Garry Comerford throw in and Paul Moffat steadied himself nicely to lean in and head across the line. The home team tried to respond quickly with a good move when Boyle put Gavin Mullen in with a chance but he over-hit his shot and Stacey was relieved to see it continue on past his right and out of danger. That proved to be a costly miss for Drogheda as they found themselves further behind in the eighteenth minute. From a move that gathered momentum on the right, Dean Ebbe got the ball in to Sean Dixon and, using his considerable strength, Dixon ran on to score the Hoops’ second with a low drive.
Soon after that it looked like Jonathon Coleman might have caused a problem for the Hoops but a timely challenge by right full Dean Power prevented Coleman from getting the ball into the box. Goal number three came in the thirty-second minute when left winger Bobo Nkanu brilliantly managed to evade a challenge from his marker and proceeded to set Dixon up for another well-delivered goal. Nkanu had a go himself four minutes later when he almost caught Finnegan out after the ‘keeper had come out to successfully prevent Ebbe firstly and then Dixon from getting onto the ball in the box.
As half time approached the home team tried to get something back to set themselves up for the second half. Neil McEvoy’s free kick found the ever threatening Boyle but Stacey was alert and easily gathered from Boyle to snuff out the danger. Seconds later, centre half Marc Keeley put in a good tackle to deny Boyle another opportunity.
The second half was on for just five minutes when Drogheda found themselves further behind. Nkanu was again the provider, this time for Ebbe with the big lad making no mistake from his header. Six minutes later Finnegan found himself reaching into the back of the net once again, this time after Moffat’s perfectly delivered free found the inrushing Garry Comerford who seemed to catch the Drogs totally off guard as he came in from behind to force the ball over the line.
Captain Garry Comerford celebrates his goal
Drogheda’s Keith Boyle must have wondered just what he needed to do to get the ball into the back of the net; twice in the space of a minute his efforts somehow failed to cross the line after he firstly struck the upright and then could only watch a minute later when Stacey managed to get a touch on the ball when it looked like it was going in. Rovers’ sixth and final goal was scored in the sixty-ninth minute and it came from the spot. Reece McEnteer fouled Ebbe and Dixon stepped up and proceeded to get his hat-trick. The Drogheda ‘keeper and defenders were furious with the referee as they felt he should have awarded their side a penalty at the other end only minutes earlier. In the seventy-third minute Comerford cleared the ball off the line but although it would be true to say that Drogheda had their chances it would also be unfair not to say that right from an early stage of this game it was clear which team was going to win. After the game the news came through that Sligo Rovers had defeated St. Patrick’s Athletic and the Hoops will now prepare for the next round game against the Westerners at Tallaght Stadium.
Drogheda United: 1 Shane Finnegan. 2 Conor Murphy. 3 Reece McEnteer. 4 Neil McEvoy. 5 Eoin Smyth. 6 Sean Challenger. 7 Conor Osborne. 8 Jonathan Coleman. 9 Keith Boyle. 10 Gavin Mullen. 11 Dylan Kearney.
Substitutes: Stephen Hevey for Murphy (h.t.). Robert Cashman for Osborne (62 mins). Sam Simpson for Kearney (76 mins).
Shamrock Rovers: 1 Lee Stacey. 2 Dean Power. 3 Jack Memery. 4 Garry Comerford. 5 Marc Keeley. 6 Paul Moffat. 7 Lorcan Shannon. 8 Charlie Kenna. 9 Dean Ebbe. 10 Sean Dixon. 11 Bobo Nkanu.
Substitutes: Jason Murphy for Shannon (62 mins). Niall Forrester for Moffat (71 mins). Donal Branagan for Keeley (76 mins).
Match report compiled by Robert Goggins