by Robert O'Reilly
Drogheda United warmed up for their European clash against Malmo on Thursday by defeating Cork City 3-0 in the quarter final of the EA Sports Cup at Hunky Dorys Park.
Jason Marks opened the scoring on 22 minutes, his third strike in this season’s competition while quick fire goals from Alan McNally and Ryan Brennan on the stroke of half time sealed the reigning Cup holders’ progression to the semi final.
Mick Cooke made six changes from the 3-0 defeat to Shamrock Rovers on Friday as the suspended quartet of Alan Byrne, Alan McNally, Ryan Brennan and David Cassidy all returned to the starting line up.
As for City, they made five changes from their disappointing defeat at the UCD Bowl as Daryl Kavanagh partnered Denis Behan up front.
Early pressure from united forced three corners within the opening five minutes but it was the Leesiders who created the first opportunity. Derek Prendergast was adjudged to have fouled Daryl Kavanagh on the edge of the box and Keith Spillane’s well struck effort stung the fingertips of Michael Schlingermann in goal.
United deservedly hit the front with a quarter of the game gone. A misplaced header from Cork defender Garry Buckley fell invitingly for Marks, who shifted the ball to the left, and curled a beautiful 20 yard effort beyond the helpless Kevin Burns.
The Drogs almost doubled their lead on 37 minutes as a free flowing move involving Michael Daly, Alan Byrne and David Cassidy resulted in the latter releasing Byrne but his effort sailed over the bar as Burns advanced.
Drogheda made their pressure count as five minutes later they furthered their lead. A David Cassidy corner was headed back across goal by Ryan Brennan and as Derek Prendergast’s strike was blocked, his centre back partner Alan McNally bundled the ball over the line for 2-0.
The Boynesiders were out of sight by half time, Prendergast picked out Paul O’Conor whose lay off to Gary O’Neill was returned to the former UCD midfielder and his first time volley was blocked with the use of an arm by Danny Murphy. Despite the Keeper guessing the right way, Ryan Brennan calmly dispatched the spot kick.
Cork emerged early in the second half and they almost pulled a goal back on 47’. A lofted corner kick from Spillane was met by the head of Adam Rundle but his effort went narrowly over.
The home side seemed content to allow Cork to advance in an attempt to finish the game on the counter attack and it was nearly four as a Daly cross was met by Marks at the backpost but he volleyed into the ground and the danger was averted.
City looked a side low on confidence and United squandered yet another chance to add to the score line. Cassidy sent substitute and all time leading goal scorer Declan O’Brien through on goal and he rounded the keeper only for Rob Lehane to clear on the line.
The final chance of the game fell the way of Ryan Brennan as Daly picked him out with an inch perfect cross field ball and Brennan cut in from the left only to see his shot miraculously saved by the fingertips of Burns.
A morale boosting win and another semi final for Mick Cooke’s men as they prepare for one of the biggest nights in the Club’s history as they take on Swedish giants Malmo in Tallaght on Thursday.
by Robert O'Reilly
Drogheda United manager Mick Cooke will have an almost fully fit squad to choose from as his side welcomes Cork City to Hunky Dorys Park for the EA Sports Cup Quarter Final, Kick off 7.45pm.
Eric Foley is the only certain absentee as he recovers from a hernia while there are slight doubts over the fitness of both Declan O’Brien and Phillip Hand but they are expected to be available for selection.
The Boynesiders will be relieved to welcome back the quartet of Ryan Brennan, Alan McNally, Alan Byrne and David Cassidy, all of whom were suspended for the 3-0 loss to Shamrock Rovers on Friday.
Cork City defeated the drogs in a tight game prior to the league break, a stunning Daryl Horgan goal separating the sides on a frustrating night for the claret and blue.
A late Declan O’Brien penalty rescued Drogheda a point when the two clubs met at Hunky Dorys Park back in April after Shane Duggan had given Tommy Dunne’s men the lead.
Both teams will be using the cup competitions as a distraction from their worrying league form, Cork have won only one of their last five while Drogheda haven’t won in the league since a 1-0 victory away to Limerick six games ago.
With a huge European clash at home to Malmo on Thursday, Assistant manager Robbie Horgan is confident that his side will approach this match in the right manner.
“We are the EA Sports Cup holders, we will treat the game with the respect it deserves. We all know Europe is on Thursday and all the lads want to play in that, but we take each game as it comes and we would like to defend our EA Sports Cup title.
“It’s good to get the four lads back into the team, we will be putting out a strong team for tomorrow night, we’ll deal with Thursday once the final whistle goes, but for the moment everything is focused on the EA Sports Cup. We won’t be underestimating Cork City either, they are no pushovers.
“I thought the lads played well on Friday, but we didn’t create enough in the final third, we had one real shot on target in the first-half, that being Peter Hynes effort and that’s just not good enough. But I thought we were the better side in the first-half and just didn’t create enough.
“Once Rovers scored though the heads went and then we went two nil down and within five minutes we were three nil down. A few of those lads were playing for their place on Thursday and tomorrow night will offer some others a chance to put their hand up for a starting place on Thursday. “
Derek Prendergast ©
Gary O’Neill (Declan O’Brien 68’)
Gavin Brennan (Shane Grimes 60’)
Alan Byrne (Brian Gannon 45’)
Danny Murphy ©
Darren Dennehy (John Kavanagh 21’)
Daryl Kavanagh (Danny Furlong 61’)
Denis Behan (Rob Lehane 57’)
Jason Marks 22’, Alan McNally 43’, Ryan Brennan (pen) 45’
David Cassidy, Derek Prendergast