Wednesday 17 January 2018

English League 1 outfit return home empty-handed

Carl Walshe. Picture: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Carl Walshe. Picture: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

MANY English sides have paid visits to United Park down the years - and they have usually departed with the spoils, be the games friendlies or not.

So when MK Dons arrived in town last week for a typical pre-season clash with the hosts, one suspected the tie would eventually go the way of the visitors from Milton Keynes.

But this time Drogheda decided to rip up the script.

The Dons had their top players on show - the likes of Dean Bowditch, ex-Liverpool man Darren Potter, David Martin in goal and many others who have been up and down the divisions.

They were bigger and looked stronger, yet fell to a wonderfully organised and disciplined home side.

What Darius Kierans has brought to the side in recent weeks is nothing less than remarkable. For those who were in Athlone on the night of the 6-0 mauling, this is simply a different team. Even when he was saving Dundalk from relegation a few seasons ago, his mantra was shape and commitment and MK Dons - who won both of their other Irish tour games - couldn't get past that.

He has a few gems in his ranks, maybe none more so than 18-year-old Dylan Connolly. Former boss Robbie Horgan could see the potential in this keeper and signed him - thankfully.

While he did give away a 26th-minute penalty, he redeemed himself with a wonderful save from a powerful Dele Alli low strike. His kicking is immense and reading of the game equally good.

On the night Kierans brought in a few trialists, with Roddy Collins jnr, son of Roddy, playing at right-back from the start and not looking out of place, it has to be said.

Peter McGlynn also showed up well, while Stephen Chambers, brother of former Drogheda midfielder James, came in for the second half.

It was also great to see the likes of Dale Harding and Roy Kierans get a run, along with the O'Connor twins, Sean and Ciaran.

While Bowditch did hit the upright from a free kick, Drogheda created the better chances, with Sean O'Connor setting up one for Gavin Brennan after a cross from Gavan Holohan on 40 minutes.

The winner came six minutes from time when the magnificent Holohan threaded a ball through for the in-form Carl Walshe (pictured) who took it in his stride and beat the keeper.

At the final whistle, Darius Kierans walked off as cool as ever, a night's work done. Perhaps he's been the best signing of all in recent weeks.

DROGHEDA UNITED: Dylan Connolly; Roddy Collins, Alan McNally, Paul Andrews, Shane Grimes; Peter McGlynn, Stephen Maher, Gavan Holohan, Sean O'Connor, Gavin Brennan; Declan O'Brien. Subs: Daire Doyle, Ciaran O'Connor, Roy Kierans, Dale Harding, Fionn Reilly, Carl Walshe, Michael Daly, Stephen Chambers, Dave Ryan.

Milton Keynes DONS: David Martin; George Baldock, Dean Lewington, Tom Flanagan, Kyle McFadzean; Mark Randall, Dele Alli, Daniel Powell; Dean Bowditch, Georgio Rasulo, Tom Hitchcock.

Referee: Simon Rogers (Dublin).

Drogheda Independent

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