By Robert O’Reilly
Drogheda United were held by Sligo Rovers to a scoreless draw on the final night of the Premier Division season in a fiery contest at United Park.
The result means that it is Galway United and not Sligo who will join Finn Harps and Drogheda in the First Division next season.
Drogheda boss Pete Mahon made two changes from the side that defeated Finn Harps 3-2 on Monday with Dave Mulcahy and Adam Wixted starting in place of Conor Kane and Sean Russell.
An even opening to the game saw both sides enjoy periods of possession with Sean Brennan’s speculative volley the first shot on target after a quarter of an hour.
Sligo only got going in truth at the end of the half with Seamus Sharkey heading wide from a promising position while John Russell failed to hit the target from 20-yards out.
The visitors started the second-half brightly with Stephen McGuinness gathering Jack Keaney’s strike at the second attempt.
Vinny Faherty was the next to come close but he failed to make a clean connection from eight yards out though the deadlock was almost broken in fortuitous fashion as Gary Boylan’s cross smashed off the bar before being cleared.
Drogheda almost caught Sligo cold seconds later when Chris Mulhall’s knock-on was headed goalwards by Ryan McEvoy but his header was cleared off the line with goalkeeper Shaun Patton beaten.
Sligo were frustrated once again just past the hour mark as Shane Elworthy cleared off the line from a corner-kick with McGuinness making a smart follow-up save to deny Kyle McFadden.
A bad-tempered spell in the game saw a number of players booked with Sligo keeper Patton substituted following a late challenge as both sides went in search of a goal.
Mark Doyle fired wide for Drogheda late on while McGuinness once again performed heroics to deny substitute Benny Igiheon a winner.
A promising performance from a young Drogheda side who will be aiming to recreate the promotion push of 2016 in the First Division next season.
Drogheda United: Stephen McGuinness; Shane Elworthy, Kevin Farragher, Dave Mulcahy, Stephen Dunne; Adam Wixted (Thomas Byrne 58’), Sean Brennan (Jamie Hollywood 93’), Ryan McEvoy, Mark Doyle; Chris Mulhall, Stephen Meaney (Sean Russell 82’).
Sligo Rovers: Shaun Patton (Ed McGinty 64’); Mick Leahy, Hyle McFadden, Seamus Sharkey, Gary Boylan; Jamie McDonagh (Raffele Cretaro 69’), Jack Keaney, John Russell, Rhys McCabe; Greg Moorhouse (Benny Igiehon 82’), Vinny Faherty.
DroghedaUnited.ie Man of the Match: Stephen McGuinness