Mikey Drennan strike enough for Shamrock Rovers

Drogheda United fail to take chances to earn a point in Tallaght

Mikey Drennan celebrates after scoring for Shamrock Rovers in their  SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match against Drogheda United at   Tallaght Stadium. Photo: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Mikey Drennan celebrates after scoring for Shamrock Rovers in their SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match against Drogheda United at Tallaght Stadium. Photo: Donall Farmer/Inpho

 

Shamrock Rovers 1 Drogheda United 0

Pat Fenlon’s side have a good deal to do over the remaining two thirds of the season if they are to make up the ground lost so far and end up at the top of the table, but here at least they ticked one of the boxes on the checklists of would be champions by winning without playing well.

The Dubliners, of course, will be happy to have taken the points courtesy of Mikey Drennan’s early close-range effort but they seemed to stumble their way through a terribly poor second half during which United rarely showed any of the urgency that might have been expected from a team that there was a prospect of rescuing something from the game.

Rovers may simply have felt that, in the circumstances, they had done enough but on a cold night, a fair few of an already disappointing crowd seemed happy to take their chances and head early for the exits. As it happens, Brandon Miele almost provided some reward for those who stayed on with a 90th-minute strike that came crashing back off the crossbar, but there were to be no late goals and precious little other drama.

It had been different through the opening stages when both sides had defended poorly enough and though Rovers always looked the better side, the key difference was that in Drennan, they had a striker capable of applying the required finish, albeit from around two yards out.

Miele, who had previously demonstrated his ability to cause problems for the visitors when cutting in from the right, got down the outside for the cross that teed up the 21-year-old’s tap-in but United should have defended it better had Ryan Brennan not acted as a distraction inside the six yard box where he stepped over the low ball, allowing it to run to Drennan who was entirely unmarked just short of the far post.

That was the 19th minute but the goal still felt like it had been a long time coming with both Drennan and Keith Fahey having already passed up decent chances to beat Michael Schlingermann before then. The former’s chance had come thanks to a well judged ball over the top but the striker took what seemed like an age to line up a shot when a first time lob might have been the better option and in the end Alan Byrne got back to block. Fahey’s, meanwhile, rounded off one the home team’s best build-ups of the night but his shot was weak and directed almost straight at the goalkeeper.

Even against a side that had not won in eight league games, Fenlon’s men rarely really impressed during what remained of the contest after the goal and at the back they gave the ball away enough times for United to have a few chances of their own.

The visitors’ game-plan, predictably enough, was to get bodies behind the ball most of the time then break the chance arose. While Tiarnan Mulvenna often looked a little lost upfront by himself before the break, the pressure they exerted when they did get bodies forward sometimes paid dividends, even after the hosts had initially won possession and looked to be in a position to clear any danger.

Seán Brennan certainly had his moments early while Mulvenna and Lee Duffy might have done better with half-chances that came their way later on. Still, it was centre back Byrne who came closest to actually finding the net with a shot that clattered off the underside of the crossbar down onto the line. Craig Hyland was still scrambling to gather when, to what must have been considerable relief, he noticed the offside flag.

Their chances of salvaging anything weren’t helped by an injury just before the break to skipper Mike Daly just before the break with the defender returning for the second half but then quickly having to concede that to continue was beyond him.

Byrne took the armband and kept marshalling those around him but in reality Schlingermann barely had anything to do as the home side simply saw the game out.

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Hyland; Madden, Kenna, Blanchard, O’Brien; Cregg (McPhail, 69 mins), R Brennan; Miele, Fahey, G Brennan (McCabe, 60 mins); Drennan.

DROGHEDA UNITED: Schlingermann; Daly (McGowan, 48 mins), Byrne, Gorman, Marks; Duffy, Maher, Hughes (O’Reilly, 82 mins), Walshe; Brennan (Brady, 73 mins); Mulvenna.

Referee: S Grant (Wexford).

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