by Robert O'Reilly
Drogheda United have suffered their first defeat of the season as they went down 1-0 to ten man Galway United at Eamonn Deacy Park.
Galway hit the front after only 90 seconds through End Curran’s tremendous individual strike but they were reduced to ten men before the half hour mark following Sam Oji’s professional foul but the Boynesiders were unable to make their numerical advantage count.
Drogheda manager Johnny McDonnell was forced into two changes from the side that defeated Sligo Rovers last weekend as Mick Daly was replaced by Lloyd Buckley while Tiarnan Mulvenna was handed his first start of the season in place of flu victim Daryl Kavanagh.
It was a nightmare start for the Drogs as they fell behind on two minutes when Curran found himself one on one with Alan Byrne as the striker flicked the ball over the defender before smashing the ball past Micheál Schlingermann into the bottom corner.
The visitors struggled to get a foothold in the game but they were handed a huge incentive on 25 minutes as Mulvenna capitalised on an under-hit back pass from Sam Oji who brought the striker down on the edge of the box.
Referee Graham Kelly had no hesitation in showing the former Limerick man a red card while Sean Thornton sent the resulting free kick crashing off the crossbar and out of play.
Galway manager Tommy Dunne reacted to his side going down to ten men by substituting goal scorer Curran for Andy O’Connell as the Tribesmen went to a 4-4-1 formation as they looked to solidify their lead.
With the extra man advantage, Drogheda dominated possession for the remainder of the half but a lapse of concentration in defence gave the hosts the perfect chance to double their lead but Jake Keegan sent his shot flying over the bar from 20 yards.
Jason Marks had a half chance to bring Drogheda level seconds into the second half but he dragged his shot from the left wide of Connor Gleeson’s bottom corner.
The visitors looked toothless in attack for much of the game and despite being in control of affairs, they failed to test Gleeson in goal as Stephen Maher came close to hitting the target with a fierce 25 yard drive.
A number of long balls into the box late on proved unsuccessful as Drogheda slipped down to fourth in the league table and they will be looking to return to winning ways at home to Limerick on Tuesday.
by Robert O'Reilly
Drogheda United will be looking to continue their fine start to the new season when they face Galway United at Eamonn Deacy Park on Friday, kick-off 7.45pm.
Despite being behind twice in the game, Drogheda recorded a surprise 3-2 victory at home to Sligo Rovers last week and manager Johnny McDonnell has praised his side’s resolute display.
‘We started off ok but then gave away two poor goals which you can’t do at this level,‘ McDonnell acknowledged Thursday afternoon. ’We were much more disciplined second half and once we got the lead, we had the wherewithal to see out the game which really impressed me.’
The Bit o’Red took the lead early on at United Park through former Drogheda striker Dinny Corcoran and while United levelled soon after with Daryl Kavanagh’s header, Sligo carved the home side opened a number of times before finally making their advantage count before the interval through Gavin Peers’ header.
‘I thought we did well to stay in the game first half because Sligo easily could have been a couple of goals up at the break. That’s football and we rode our luck to an extent. We still spoke about winning the game at half time despite being behind and the players believed that we could turn things around.’
Two quick-fire strikes in the second half from Cathal Brady and Neil Yadolahi were enough for Drogheda to seal all three points despite some late scares.
‘Physically and mentally, we were excellent second half. The players showed great maturity to restrict Sligo to very few chances once we got in front and in the end I thought we created some good opportunities to make it 4-2 and I’ve asked the players to go and match those energy levels against Galway.’
With two wins from two, confidence is high within the Drogheda ranks, but McDonnell is eager for his side to remain focused ahead of a difficult trip to last season’s play-off winners.
‘Galway could use our position in their team talk in terms of wanting to knock us off our perch and we need to be wary of that. I think if we perform to our capabilities, then we have a good chance of getting a positive result.
‘They are a very functional side with some excellent players like Ryan Connolly and Sam Oji is a great addition for them. It’s pretty much the same side that Tommy Dunne had to work with last year so they will know each other’s game very well.’
Sean Thornton is suffering with a back complaint but should be passed fit while Daryl Kavanagh, Stephen Maher and Dylan Connolly are all doubtful with flu. Mark Hughes may be available from the bench for the first time this season.
Jason Molloy (David O’Leary 76)
Enda Curran (Andy O’Connell 30)
Jake Keegan (Padraic Cunnigham 83)
Lloyd Buckley (Carl Walshe 67)
Cathal Brady (Michael Scott 77)
Sean Brennan (Mark Hughes 61)
Enda Curran 2
Jason Molloy 71
Sean Brennan 55