Tuesday 22 January 2019

'We're in, now make it count!'

Soccer SSE Airtricity League Promotion/Relegation Series

Marcus Cavaroli

There's no prize just for qualifying for the SSE Airtricity League Play-offs and Jake Hyland says Drogheda United are determined to go all the way and make an immediate return to the Premier Division.

The captain's Twitter bio merely states 'no bull**** straight up' and his assessment of the Boynesiders' position going into the two-leg Shelbourne tie is similarly simple.

'It went down to the last game,' he said, 'but there was only one week when we weren't in the play-off positions and when you look at stats like that, I think we 100% deserved it. It's brilliant to be there and now we want to make it count.'

The three league games between Drogheda and Shelbourne this season produced just five goals - a last-gasp 1-0 win for the Boynesiders in Tolka Park and two 1-1 draws - and Hyland is predicting a similar battle over the two legs - starting in United Park this Friday.

'We've known for a while that we'd probably be at home in the first leg, but I don't think that'll make any difference,' he reflected.

'The last time [against Wexford in the 2016 play-off final] the crowd was the best we'd had in a long time and we're hoping to fill United Park out again.

'Shels are quite a physical team and quite well set up and no team has given them a drubbing this season, so it will be tight and any lead we can take into the second leg would be good.

'If we can do that we would be confident we could see the game out. We went down to Cobh where we went ahead early, got a second goal early in the second half and kept a clean sheet, so we've started to manage games - it's not all gung-ho football.

'It's going to be really edgy, but in the games when there's been pressure on us it's given us an edge to our game and they're games we look forward to.'

The winners of this tie go on to face Finn Harps over two legs and then there is a further two-leg play-off against the Premier Division representative - probably Limerick - and Hyland acknowledged that it will be a tough ask to go all the way despite the side's play-off experience of two years ago.

However, he feels that Drogheda United - the team and the club - will be in a good place if they did manage to win all three ties over the next few weeks.

'It's really hard for the First Division sides to get promoted. The Premier team get home advantage in the second leg [of the play-off final] and that's a bit ludicrous because they already have an advantage anyway,' he pointed out.

'But if we go up we have a really good young manager and a new ground coming up, so everything's falling for us.'

Drogheda Independent