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Drogheda United produce stunning comeback to make immediate return to the Premier Division

The county Louth club trailed Wexford Youths 2-0 after the first leg.

Drogheda United 3

Wexford Youths 0

(Drogheda win 3-2 on aggregate)

DROGHEDA UNITED HAVE been promoted back to the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division after a memorable comeback win which condemned Wexford Youths to the drop.

Sean Brennan’s stunner in first half stoppage time set Pete Mahon’s men on their way before Kevin Farragher headed in and Sean Thornton’s penalty sealed their promotion 12 minutes from time.

The Youths were in command from last Monday’s first leg thanks to goals from Danny Furlong and Lee Chin but Drogheda’s remarkable United Park comeback ensures their stay in the First Division was as brief as possible.

Conor Whittle reacts to a missed chance Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

The club branded this playoff second leg as ‘Mission Possible’ but early on Wexford could have all but secured their Premier Divison status. After brilliant play between Furlong and Paul Murphy, the former’s header was superbly saved by Stephen McGuinness.

Richie Purdy and Adam Wixted forced Graham Doyle into saves before Gareth McCaffrey saw an effort cleared off the line by Gary Delaney. The opener came when Brennan and Marc Griffin worked a corner short. The midfielder cut in and curled a brilliant left foot shot in.

Sean Thorntan celebrates scoring with Adam Wixted Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Just prior to the hour, the Drogs were level on aggregate. Griffin’s corner was headed in by centre back Farragher. He rose unopposed to plant a firm header past Doyle and a defender on the line.

Shane Keegan was seeing the match and his side’s safety hopes slip away. Both Delaney and Furlong tested McGuinness before Thornton’s spot kick. Andrew O’Connor was adjudged to have fouled Griffin and the captain stroked his penalty home.

Pete Mahon celebrates Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Farragher made a brilliant double-intervention late on to deny sub Shane Dempsey while there was controversy when referee Graham Kelly appeared to signal a goal for Youths but then change his mind. In truth, Drogs stopper McGuinness was fouled and the right decision was made but not before Wexford players, staff and fans celebrated wildly.

Their equaliser never came and they go down. Drogheda ensure the Louth derby returns in 2017.

DROGHEDA UNITED: Stephen McGuinness, Colm Deasy, Luke Gallagher, Lloyd Buckley (Kevin Farragher, 20), Stephen Dunne, Jake Hyland, Richie Purdy, Sean Brennan (Sean Thornton, 54), Adam Wixted (Aaron Ashe, 89), Gareth McCaffrey,Mark Griffin.

Subs Not Used: Patrick Dunican, John McKeown, Derek Doyle, Liam Donnelly.

WEXFORD YOUTHS: Graham Doyle, Craig McCabe, Chris Kenny (Dunne, 88), Lee Grace, Andrew O’Connor (Dempsey, 88), Conor Whittle (Friel, 88), John Bonner, Gary Delaney Aidan Keenan, Paul Murphy, Danny Furlong.

Subs Not Used: Shane Dunne, Owen Porter, Vinny Quinlan, Dean George, Cory Chambers.

Referee: Graham Kelly

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