Shamrock Rovers 3-0 Drogheda United
Mark Farren Cup 2nd Round
The Hoops bounced back in style following their disappointing defeat away to Waterford United in the league last Saturday. They welcomed back captain Andy Spain who had been away on holidays and they also gave a debut to left full Darren Prendergast who came through the game with flying honours.
The game began very much in favour of the Hoops who enjoyed the lion’s share of possession; they piled the pressure onto their opponents right from the start. Drogheda defended well but found James Clarke more than a handful to deal with. The midfielder was causing a raft of problems for the Drogheda lads and won several free kicks in the opening stages. The Hoops engaged in a slow build up from the back, giving little away and holding possession extremely well. They enjoyed an abundance of good opportunities throughout the half but the game remained scoreless at half time.
Drogheda had a seriously dangerous free kick on the edge of the box in the 25th minute after Hoops’ centre half Lee McEntee fouled Stephen Doran. Kian Hussey stood up to take the free but ‘keeper Kalvin Geraghty got down to save well. Rovers were strong all and looked impressive on the flanks with Conor Fitzharris and Rhys Murphy linking up well on the right and Darren Prendergast and Kenny Cunningham doing likewise on the left. It was good also to see Jack Priestly take such a responsible role in midfield; his performance belied his long-term absence through injury. The Portlaoise lad had every reason to be satisfied after the game.
The second half began with a bang and within two minutes Rovers had taken a 2-0 lead. Clarke played the ball into Murphy who released Dean Williams and the target man who kept the ball low to finish low. A minute later Murphy was again involved when he put the ball close to the line and Clarke finished from close range to double the score.
Evan Smithers was having a fantastic game for the Hoops and in the 58th minute played the ball out from the middle to Cunningham on the left; the winger took it down the line and instead of putting in one of his trademark crosses decided to go for the far corner and sent it in high past the outstretched Harry Hogan who had come on as a substitute ‘keeper for Drogheda at half time.
That goal effectively wrapped up the game but Drogheda ensured there was no smooth ride for the remainder and continued to probe at every opportunity. Rovers substituted ‘keeper Kalvin Geraghty in the 61st minute with Gavin Bazunu who made a stunning one-handed save six minutes later from Tomas Adeyinka. That was the last real moment of danger they faced and never looked in danger of conceding after that.
The Hoops might have increased their lead further later on after Cunningham played Williams in but the striker could only look on as his shot rebounded off the upright.
The Hoops will now face an away tie against Cork City in the quarter finals to be played at the end of this month.
Shamrock Rovers: 30. Kalvin Geraghty, 2. Conor Fitzharris, 4. Andy Spain, 20. Darren Predergast, 23. Lee McEntee, 6. Jack Priestly, 8. Evan Smithers, 17. Rhys Murphy, 19. James Clarke, 11. Kenny Cunningham, 9. Dean Williams.
Substitutes: 25.Gavin Bazunu (Geraghty 61 mins) , 10. Jordan Tallon (Smithers 71 mins), 15. Conor Behan (Clarke 55 mins), 16. Thomas Hannon (Priestly 52 mins), 18. Dan Howlin (Murphy 74 mins).
Report by Robert Goggins
Match photographs available here