Bit of Byrne magic gets Rovers back to winning ways

Playmaker sets up one and scores another as champions overcome spirited Drogheda

Shamrock Rovers 3 Drogheda United 1

Shamrock Rovers withstood a spirited display from Drogheda United at Tallaght Stadium on Friday night to return to winning ways in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.

Having suffered a late reversal to Derry City just three days earlier, the Hoops laid down a marker in the first half with fine finishes from Seán Gannon and Jack Byrne. Drogheda made a fight of it on the resumption through Evan Weir's 64th-minute strike, before Graham Burke wrapped up all three points for the hosts in the final-quarter.

There was just under 21 minutes gone when Gannon cut inside from the right and angled a shot beyond the reach of Drogs netminder Colin McCabe. Rovers subsequently strengthened their position in the closing moments of the opening period as Byrne registered his first goal since returning to the Hoops with a finish into the top left-hand corner.

This left Drogheda facing a 2-0 interval deficit, but their challenge was reignited when Weir found the net from close-range.

This asked questions of the home team, but the defending champions had the answer. Burke had replaced Byrne just shy of the hour mark and, following initial build-up play by fellow substitute Ronan Finn, he kept his cool to fire past McCabe for a game-clinching effort.

Shamrock Rovers: Mannus; Hoare, Lopes, Grace; Gannon (Finn, 76 mins), Watts (Towell, 76 mins), O'Neill, Lyons; Byrne (Burke, 57 mins), Mandroiu (Emakhu, 76 mins); Greene (Gaffney, 76 mins).

Drogheda United: McCabe; Roughan (Lyons, 79 mins), Quinn, Massey; Poynton, Deegan, Clarke, Weir; Markey, Grimes (Hughes, 59 mins); Foley (Williams, 59 mins).

Referee: A Reale (Kildare).

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