Shamrock Rovers beat Drogheda to claim EA Sports Cup
Trevor Croly’s side take their chances in Tallaght to claim first league Cup since 1977
Thomas Stewart celebrates scoring against Drogheda in the EA Sports Cup final. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho
Drogheda players show their support for fellow footballer Gary O’Neill who was recently diagnosed with cancer. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho
Shamrock Rovers 2 Drogheda United 0: It wasn’t quite the rout Rovers inflicted on United when the two met here in May, but the outcome was the same in today’s EA Sports Cup final in Tallaght, with Trevor Croly’s side coming out on top by a couple of goals to lift their second trophy of the season.
Gary McCabe, from the penalty spot, and Thomas Stewart were on the mark for the Dubliners, although a disappointing game will probably be better remembered for some of the bigger refereeing decisions, with the two sendings-off looking soft, to say the least.
Referee Pádraig Sutton, to be fair, wasn’t helped by the way players from both sides played for decisions, but there was little doubt a spot kick was the right call when McCabe went over in the box 10 minutes in after Shane Grimes’s mad contact.
Rovers coasted through the rest of a low-key half, during which they only occasionally threatened to make anything of their superiority.
United worked hard in defence and midfield but consistently struggled before the break to pose any sort of threat up front, where Declan O’Brien lacked the support required to test a solid looking Rovers defence.
A fine finish by Stewart 13 minutes into the second period looked to have sealed things for Rovers but the outcome was thrown into some doubt again 20 minutes from time, when O’Brien went down and a furious Ken Oman was shown his second yellow of the game.
Mick Cooke’s men sought to make the most of the numerical advantage and did manage to force a couple of very good saves out of Barry Murphy, in what was comfortably their best spell of the match.
Rovers continued to cause them problems on the break, however, and things were evened up three minutes from time when Seán O’Connor hit the ground on the edge of the area and Derek Prendergast was shown a straight red, perhaps for his aggressive reaction to the decision rather than the challenge itself.
Another of the Rovers substitutes, Eamon Zayed, hit the bar in injury time but the miss made no difference as they completed their first success in the competition since 1977 and only their second ever.
Drogheda United: Schlingermann; Daly, McNally, Prendergast, Grimes; Byrne (Foley, 62 mins); Cassidy (Rusk, 88 mins), R Brennan, O’Conor (Hynes, 75 mins), G Brennan; O’Brien.
Shamrock Rovers: Murphy; Sullivan, Oman, McGuinness, Powell; Finn, Ryan, Robinson, Dennehy (O’Connor,81 mins); McCabe (Elebert, 73 mins); Stewart (Zayed, 90 mins).
Referee: P Sutton (Clare).