©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan
Hoop Dreams

Rovers rout Drogheda with a Magnificent 7 in Setanta Cup final

Shamrock Rovers beat Drogheda United 7-1 to win the Setanta Sports Cup in Tallaght Stadium.

SHAMROCK ROVERS SCORED a magnificent seven as they routed Drogheda United 7-1 in the Setanta Sports Cup final.

James Chambers, Sean O’Connor and Karl Sheppard gave the Hoops a 3-0 advantage at half-time before two goals apiece from man of the match Ronan Finn and Billy Dennehy heaped the pain on Mick Cooke’s Drogs.

Former Hoop Gary O’Neill scored the second-half consolation for the visitors but there was little it would do to stem the wave of goals which swept Rovers to their first silverware of the Trevor Croly era.

A crowd of 4,022 including President Michael D Higgins turned out at Tallaght Stadium this afternoon and it wasn’t long before they saw Rovers move into pole position.

When the opener came on 12 minutes, there was a hint of good fortune to it. Ryan Brennan was first up to meet O’Connor’s cross from the left but his header came back off Chambers and snuck past the scrambling Gabriel Sava at his left post.

Rovers doubled their advantage two minutes later. Danny Ledwith’s cross hung up in the air and as Shane Grimes positioned himself to deal with the danger, the ball dropped on to his back and fell at the feet of O’Connor inside the box. The Rovers man still had work to do but picked his spot in the far corner just out of Sava’s reach.

It could have been three for the Hoops just before the half-hour mark but Sava made a fine flying save to tip a McGuinness header over the bar. The Drogs keeper was called into action again from the resulting corner and saved O’Connor’s 20-yard effort with his feet.

But there was little Sava could do when Rovers turned their dominance into a third minutes before half-time. Finn found Sheppard with a neat pass and the striker made no mistake in sliding the ball home.

Drogheda did have a few half-chances to make a game of it early in the second half but any glimmer of hope still lingering among the travelling support was soon snuffed out by two Finn goals in the space of a minute.

The first came in the 55th minute when he cut back inside a tired Derek Prendergast and zipped a low shot from 25 yards into the right corner. Sava will feel that he could have done more but his weak touch only helped the ball onto the inside of the post.

Finn struck again within 60 seconds, twisting and turning inside the box before firing Rovers’ fifth, and when O’Neill poked home some small consolation on 65 minutes, the Drogheda celebrations were understandably muted.

To their credit, with the game all but won Rovers stayed switched on and added a sixth with a quarter of an hour remaining. Finn would have been offside had he collected Chambers’ through-ball but Dennehy waved him out of the way and went on to guide the ball around Sava.

Dennehy capped the afternoon with his second three minutes from time, stealing in at the back post to complete an unforgettable day for those in green and white.

Drogheda United: Sava, Gannon (McNally, 73’), Prendergast (c), Byrne, Grimes, Cassidy, Daly (O’Conor, 59’), R Brennan, Rusk (O’Brien, 59’), G Brennan, O’Neill.

Shamrock Rovers: Murphy, Sullivan (c), McGuinness, Foran, Ledwith, O’Connor (Kilduff, 72’), Rice, Chambers, Finn, Dennehy, Sheppard (Quigley, 59’; McCabe, 78’).

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