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Drogheda United bid to take huge step to safety

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Dane Massey clears the danger for Drogheda United against UCD. Picture: Paul Connor

Dane Massey clears the danger for Drogheda United against UCD. Picture: Paul Connor

Ryan Brennan checks for teammates before collecting the ball during Monday’s match.

Ryan Brennan checks for teammates before collecting the ball during Monday’s match.

Ryan Brennan checks for teammates before collecting the ball during Monday’s match.

Ryan Brennan checks for teammates before collecting the ball during Monday’s match.

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Dane Massey clears the danger for Drogheda United against UCD. Picture: Paul Connor

droghedaindependent

DROGHEDA United legend Declan ‘Fabio’ O’Brien handed his former club a massive boost when he picked Shamrock Rovers out of the hat in Tuesday’s FAI Cup second-round draw.

The Boynesiders will host Stephen Bradley’s men in the only all-Premier tie at the end of the month, but Drogheda’s players shouldn’t need reminding that there are crucial league games to be played in the meantime, starting with the most important one of all - away to Finn Harps this Friday (kick-off 7.45pm).

Monday’s 1-1 draw with UCD has perhaps given the bottom two clubs fresh hope that they can catch Drogheda, and Harps in particular might fancy their chances of making life uncomfortable for Kevin Doherty’s charges in the closing weeks of the season – but only if they can win this Friday’s crunch game.

Such an outcome would still leave them 12 points adrift, but with a game in hand, and given that they face UCD on Friday week there would be every prospect of the gap coming down still further.

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From their perspective, Drogheda won’t want to give Harps boss Ollie Horgan a glimmer of hope and that’s a point Doherty’s assistant Daire Doyle is keen to stress.

“I think it would be fair to say that we’re nearly there in terms of safety, but we’re not looking at it in that regard,” he said.

“We’re looking at it, that there are teams just above us, and if we can pick up the results we feel we can pick up it would be bring us closer to them sides.

“We’re going to go to Finn Harps and give them full respect. They’re in a battle up there and they know they have to win games to stand any chance of getting out of the position that they’re in at the moment.

“I’m sure they’re going to target a game against us to pick up three points, but we’ll be going up there likewise.

“If we can get a win up there it brings us closer to Shelbourne just ahead of us, and they’re playing on Sunday.

“But we know we’re in for a game and we’ve got to go up there now and be prepared and be ready to go.

“I’m sure any team below you, when they get a victory over you . . . there is 11 league games to go and I think the gap at the moment is 15 points. So it’s really important that we come away with a result.

“If they win the game then there’s a 12-point cushion, but that’s still a considerable gap.They’d have to really, really hit form in comparison to what they’ve done so far this season, but I’m sure Ollie will be telling them they can do it.”

Doyle wasn’t too happy with the way Drogheda threw away a winning position against UCD, conceding what turned out to be the equaliser in the final seconds of the first half.

“It’s a point and we’ll take it,” he said.

“But there’ll be parts of the game we’ll be disappointed with, particularly when you look at the first 15 minutes when we could have been three or four goals up.

“With the amount of clear-cut that we had, we should have punished them and it should have been game over.

“We only scored only one goal in that period and it allowed them to grow into the game and for the last 15 minutes of the first half I thought they were the better side, but without really testing our goalkeeper on too many occasions.

“That dragged into the second half, but I still think we had the better chances in the second half. It was probably an end-to-end game in the second half, but when you look at the whole game we had more possession by quite a distance and we had far more clear-cut chances.

“We’re really disappointed with the goal that they scored. I think there were 30 seconds to go in the first half and we can clear our lines better. I think we tried to take a touch in the box when we know we shouldn’t be doing that.

“We are a bit annoyed because we’ve played some excellent stuff over these past couple of months and it looked like it was going to be the case again. Anyone watching today, particularly at the beginning of the game, we were causing them all sorts of problems and they were finding it really difficult to live with us.

“We should be picking up three points, but we picked up a point against a team below us and it keeps that distance quite big with 11 games to go.”

Evan Weir is set to return to the starting line-up against Harps after serving a one-match suspension, but Luke Heeney (hamstring) remains sidelined.


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