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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Mark McCadden

Drogheda United 1-0 Shamrock Rovers: Home side somehow hold out 10-man champions in chaotic upset

A RED CARD, a yellow card for a substitute, a lengthy delay and appeals for fans to stop throwing objects onto the pitch and NINE minutes of stoppage time.

And the outcome of this game, much of which was played in monsoon conditions, was just as bonkers!

One shot on target, one goal, three points - lowly Drogheda United somehow secured the win over table-toppers and back-to-back champions Shamrock Rovers.

The Hoops laid siege to their hosts’ goal but couldn’t find the breakthrough, as goalkeeper Sam Long and his makeshift backline were sensational.

Long made two outstanding first-half saves, while his defence, which lost experienced skipper Dane Massey after only nine minutes, made several last-ditch blocks and tackles to keep Rovers’ star-studded attack at bay.

Despite the defeat, Rovers’ seven-point lead at the top remains intact - but they should be 10 clear tonight.

Rory Gaffney saw plenty of the early action and fired wide of the near post after just three minutes.

Kevin Doherty was the only defender on a Drogs bench that saw two goalkeepers named in order to fill it. The only problem? Doherty’s last game was over a decade ago.

So when the experienced Dane Massey succumbed to injury after just nine minutes, Boynesiders boss Doherty was forced into a major reshuffle.

On came midfielder Dayle Rooney and winger Luke Heeney went to right-back, with others in the backline engaging in a game of musical chairs to make the most of their depleted options.

By this stage, it was one-way traffic and it seemed to be a case of when, not if the visitors would break the deadlock.

Long performed heroics to keep out Mandroiu’s top-corner-bound free-kick after 11 minutes, before a combination of Keith Cowan and Heeney denied Gaffney as he burst into the area and prepared to shoot.

Sean Gannon’s 19th minute shot cannoned off Evan Weir and out for a corner, while Long came to the rescue again after a defence-splitting passing move sent Mandroiu in on goal.

While Rovers grew more frustrated and the chances started to dry up, few would have predicted what was to come in the 37th minute.

On the back-foot for most of the evening, Drogheda broke down the left and substitute Rooney’s cross was headed past Alan Mannus and into the Rovers net by Brennan.

The midfielder celebrated his fourth goal in 10 appearances - and on his fourth start of the season - in front of the travelling support.

Worse was to come for Rovers when midfielder Jack Byrne was forced off just before half-time for the second game in a row - and just ahead of tomorrow’s Ireland squad announcement.

Summing up their first-half was a booking for Ronan Finn - one of Rovers’ substitutes. He left the bench to remonstrate with the fourth official and was carded by Ray Matthews.

The visitors’ siege of Drogheda’s final-third continued after the half-time break with Barry Cotter and Watts having shots blocked in quick succession.

An unmarked Sean Hoare then headed wide from Watts’ corner, while Mandroiu fired wide on the turn after 56 minutes.

Rovers continued to dominate but Drogheda, with plenty of bodies behind the ball, kept chances at a premium.

There was relief for the hosts with nine minutes remaining when Mandroiu - one of Rovers’ biggest attacking threats - was shown a second yellow card for a foul on goalkeeper Long.

A significant delay followed soon after when assistant referee Allen Lynch - running the line by the away support - called over referee Matthews.

There were two pleas made over the PA, asking fans to refrain from throwing objects onto the pitch, and when play finally resumed there were groans in the home support when the stoppage time was announced.

However, Drogheda held strong, as they did throughout, to claim a famous win.


Sam Long 8

Georgie Poynton 8

Keith Cowan 8

Dane Massey 6

Evan Weir 9

Luke Heeney 8

Gary Deegan 7

James Clarke 7

Ryan Brennan 8

Dylan Grimes 6

Chris Lyons 6

SUBS: Dayle Rooney (for Massey 9), Adam Foley (for Lyons 77)

SUBS NOT USED: Colin McCabe, Aaron Davis, Mohammed Boudiaf, Dean Williams, Charles Mutawe, Killian Cailloce, Jack Supple.


Alan Mannus 6

Sean Gannon 6

Sean Hoare 5

Lee Grace 6

Barry Cotter 5

Dylan Watts 5

Richie Towell 5

Jack Byrne 6

Andy Lyons 6

Danny Mandroiu 6

Rory Gaffney 6

SUBS: Graham Burke (for Byrne 42), Aaron Greene (for Towell 61), Gary O’Neill (for Cotter 61), Aidomo Emakhu (for Gaffney 70)

SUBS NOT USED: Leon Pohls, Ronan Finn, Sean Kavanagh, Neil Farrugia, Chris McCann.

REFEREE: Ray Matthews

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