by Shane Callaghan
Drogheda United continued their resurgence under caretaker boss Darius Kierans this evening as the Boynesiders beat Shamrock Rovers 1-0 in Tallaght Stadium.
Gavan Holohan’s 17th-minute winner proved enough for the visitors to down their Dublin counterparts and seal their fourth win in the six games since Kierans took charge – a run of form which includes a 1-0 victory over English outfit MK Dons.
The Drogheda boss will be very happy with a performance from his team that exuded maturity and confidence. There have been glimmers of this over the last number of weeks but tonight it was evident all over the pitch.
The glorious weather in south Dublin was the only positive throughout a cagey opening to the encounter, but United soon managed to move ahead in the contest through Holohan, who bagged his second goal in his last three competitive outings to give Drogheda the lead.
The midfielder capitalised on a sloppy defensive header from Robert Bayly, before his chest-and-volley from eight yards out found the back of the net via the crossbar.
Despite the hosts valiant efforts to unsettle the Boynesiders throughout the remainder of the half they lacked a cutting edge in the final third, with Conor Kenna and Sean O’Connor finding themselves with minor chances to draw level. Schlingermann, however, was equal to their efforts.
It would have been worse for Rovers at the break if not for the intervention of goalkeeper Barry Murphy, who produced a double save to deny the visitors from taking a healthy two-goal lead into the interval following a goalmouth scramble.
With the expectation that Rovers would return from the break intent on levelling the scoreline, it was in fact United that started the brighter of the two sides. Although Gary McCabe grew in influence as the minutes ticked on in the second half, the midfielder was twice denied by a Drogheda keeper who looked supremely comfortable for someone who spent much of this season recovering from injury.
Trevor Croly was forced to use up all his substitutions in an effort to ignite some fire in the Rovers camp but their attempts to get back on level terms failed to yield tangible reward. Jason McGuinness spurned a half chance to restore parity with three minutes remaining by heading over the bar.
An injury time foul by Gavin Brennan resulted in a free to Rovers on the edge of the box but Drogheda fans need not have held their collective breath as Gary McCabe’s shot landed weakly in Schlingermann’s hands.
It proved to be the last chance of the encounter as Drogheda held on to leapfrog Limerick into eighth place in the SSE Airtricity League table.
by Robert O'Reilly
Drogheda United will be aiming to ease their relegation worries when they face Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium on Friday, kickoff 8pm.
Drogheda currently sit a point above the relegation zone having suffered defeat to Cork a fortnight ago in a game in which United caretaker manager Darius Kierans felt his side deserved more.
“The defeat to Cork was a tough result to take given how well we played. We deserved something out of the game but the lack of depth in the squad really showed and there was a period in the second half where we kept dropping deeper which invited pressure. Credit to Cork, they dug the result out as they have been doing all season, but there were a lot of positives to take from our point of view.”
During the enforced hiatus from league action, Drogheda recorded two friendly wins at United Park. Firstly, they defeated MK Dons 1-0 courtesy of a late strike from Carl Walshe before a 3-0 win over Warrenpoint last Saturday.
“I thought that the performance against MK Dons was another step forward from the Cork match as we showed great discipline and the finishing touch to get the win. It was also encouraging to keep a clean sheet against Warrenpoint and to give some of our squad players some game time so the break has greatly benefitted the side.”
Kierans will be embarking on his fourth competitive game in charge in which performances have improved but it is results that Drogheda need at this stage of the season and they will not be helped by key suspensions for Friday’s game.
Paul Andrews will be unavailable for a further two games following his dismissal against Sligo Rovers a month ago while Stephen Maher will also be missing after picking up his fourth yellow card of the campaign. Paul Crowley is also a doubt for the visitors due to injury.
As for the hosts, Shamrock Rovers should come into the game with greater match fitness having played three times since Drogheda’s last competitive outing. During that period, Rovers were overturned by title chasing Dundalk before defeating both Bray Wanderers and Cork City in league and cup respectively.
Rovers boss Trevor Croly will be the services of Stephen McPhail who serves an additional one-match ban for his dismissal in the victory against St. Patrick’s Athletic.
Drogheda have suffered two defeats to the Dublin club in both league and cup competitions this season. The Hoops ran out 3-2 winners when the sides met in the league back in April while Rovers advanced against nine-man United 2-1 at United Park in the EA Sports Cup; a repeat of the 2012 and 2013 finals.
Despite going into the game as considerable underdogs, Kierans believes that United have nothing to fear at Tallaght Stadium despite failing to win a league game there since the stadium opened in 2009.
“Rovers are up there challenging for the title and only six points off the top which tells you that they have a lot of quality and depth at their disposal. I’m sure Rovers will see this game as a chance to close the gap on the sides above them but confidence is growing within our side with each passing game so we will go there with no fear. If we score first, it becomes a different game and the onus will be on them.”
Sean O’Connor (Ciarán Kilduff 54’)
Shane Robinson (Kieran ‘Marty’ Waters 39’)
Dean Kelly (Karl Sheppard 67’)
Cathal Brady (Seán O’Connor 78’)
Gary O’Neill (Declan O’Brien 80’)
Gavan Holohan 17’
Dean Kelly (yellow) 31’
Gavan Holohan (yellow) 73’
Micheál Schlingermann (yellow) 83’