A linesman leaves the pitch after being struck by an object. Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Shels' late equaliser overshadowed as official hit by object

Damien Duff’s men earned a hard-fought draw in Drogheda.

Updated at 09.41

Drogheda 2

Shelbourne 2

Barry Landy reports from United Park

THERE WAS late drama aplenty at Weavers Park but Sean Boyd’s late goal was overshadowed by an incident which saw assistant referee Dermot Broughton struck by an object thrown from the away section.

Boyd’s 94th-minute header ultimately rescued a point for Shelbourne but the match was almost immediately halted after Broughton was hit. The visiting fans lit up their stand with flares when Boyd hit the net and Brougton needed instant attention.

After a lengthy pause, referee Rob Hennessy removed the players from the pitch. There were just seconds of injury time left to play.

15 minutes later play resumed as the final two minutes of added-on time played out. 

United looked to have condemned Damien Duff’s league leaders to a first defeat of the season. Evan Weir’s free-kick, his third such goal of the campaign, was deflected off Boyd’s head, leaving Conor Kearns stranded.

Boyd headed in Tyreke Wilson’s cross before the shameful incident that once again puts the spotlight on supporter conduct and the use of flares in grounds.

Mark Coyle’s superb effort had cancelled out Oisin Gallagher’s opener and Duff was left staring at a rare loss as the first round of games drew to an end.

Gallagher’s first goal for Drogheda handed the hosts the lead and they had warranted something based on their start to the game. Warren Davis teed up Gary Deegan on the edge of the area, but his shot was gathered by Conor Kearns.

Shels’ leveller was a goal which showcased Coyle’s perseverance and class in equal measure. The former Finn Harps man controlled a headed clearance on his chest and surged past Darragh Markey and Jack Keaney en route to the penalty area, flicking the ball past the latter.

He then ran onto the dropping ball, reaching it before Hayden Cann and Jethren Barr could react. His volleyed finish was quality and speaks to the confidence Coyle is playing with right now.

Weir, with two set-piece goals to his name already this season, assumed responsibility for the free kick which put United back in front. His left foot attempt flicked off the head of Boyd, another substitute, stationed on the edge of the wall. It gave Kearns no chance.

But the striker intervened late in the day and Shels remain unbeaten. That is not the story, however.

Meanwhile, Shelbourne issued a statement late on Friday night in response to the incident. It read: “Shelbourne FC wishes to offer a full and unequivocal apology to Dermot Broughton, one of the officials in this evening’s game against Drogheda United.

“We completely condemn the actions of the individual responsible, which has brought embarrassment to our club and fellow supporters.

“We will fully cooperate with Gardaí and officials to identify this individual and ensure they are held accountable for this abhorrent behaviour.

“As investigations commence, the club will make no further comment.”

Drogheda United: Jethren Barr; Andrew Quinn, Jack Keaney, Hayden Cann, Evan Weir; Gary Deegan, Oisin Gallagher; Adam Foley, Darragh Markey (Matthew O’Brien, 87), Warren Davis; Ryan Brennan (Killian Cailloce, 68).

Shelbourne: Conor Kearns; Tyreke Wilson, Paddy Barrett, Gavin Molloy, Kameron Ledwidge (Shane Farrell, 75); Mark Coyle (Evan Caffrey, 79), JJ Lunney; Liam Burt (Keith Ward, 80), John Martin (Sean Boyd, 67), Will Jarvis; Dean Williams (Matty Smith, 75)

Referee: Rob Hennessy

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