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Shamrock Rovers defeat Drogheda to seal EA Sports Cup victory

Goals from Gary McCabe and Thomas Stewart settled affairs at Tallaght Stadium.

Gary McCabe celebrates after converting his penalty.
Gary McCabe celebrates after converting his penalty.
Image: INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

SHAMROCK ROVERS CLINCHED the EA Sports Cup after they defeated Drogheda United 2 — 0 at Tallaght Stadium.

The Dubliners were the dominant side for large swathes of the match and scored a goal in each half to secure the victory. Gary McCabe converted an early penalty and Thomas Stewart showed a cool head to double the lead midway through the second half.

Rovers negotiated a tricky finish after defender Ken Oman was sent off but they weathered a late storm to win the first cup of the season.

Before the game kicked off, both sets of players paid tribute to Drogheda player Gary O’Neill, who has been recently diagnosed with cancer. Rovers and United players took to the pitch wearing ‘United with Gary’ t-shirts and wore them during the pre-match ceremonies.

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Drogheda and Shamrock Rovers players wearing ‘United with Gary’ t-shirts. INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan

President Michael D Higgins was given a warm reception as he took to the pitch and wished the players and coaches well. With the niceties put to one side, Rovers launched into Drogheda and pressured them whenever they were in brief possession of the ball.

The pressing tactics paid off as Rovers were awarded an early penalty. McCabe, who was felled in the box, stepped up to convert and send the sizeable Hoops support crazy.

Both sets of supporters then burst into applause on the 10-minute mark. The gesture was another tribute to O’Neill, who wears the No.10 jersey for Drogs. United gradually got into the game and strung some neat passing moves together but Rovers looked the most likely to score again. McCabe came close with a header and Billy Dennehy let fly from distance.

Drogheda started the second half brightly and Michael Daly forced a fine save from Barry Murphy. The defender went close with a header before Rovers re-took the attacking initiative. Richie Ryan unlocked the United defence on 58 minutes and Stewart slotted home.

There were some late nerves for Rovers fans as Ken Oman received his marching orders for a second yellow card. Drogheda were reduced to 10 men in the closing stages as Derek Prendergast saw red. Murphy was required to make a point-blank save from Declan O’Brien and Rovers substitute Eamon Zayed rattled the woodwork as Trevor Croly’s men closed out the game for the cup win.

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Patrick McCarry

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