Celebrations on hold as Rovers eye Pat's clash
Shamrock Rovers 7 Drogheda United 1
TREVOR CROLY saluted his Shamrock Rovers players after their record-breaking Setanta Cup final win, but there was no chance of his squad being allowed to toast the success.
The Hoops massacred Drogheda United at Tallaght Stadium to win the last renewal of the cross-border competition in its current guise, with the organising committee still in search of a new sponsor.
Champagne corks were popped as skipper Pat Sullivan lifted the trophy, and that was the only part that booze would play in the celebrations with minds focused on the big Dublin derby with St Patrick's Athletic at Inchicore tomorrow night. Croly's men are 14 points off the pace in the league.
"You can actually enjoy it more if you're not drinking because you can remember it," said Croly, who faces an anxious wait to see how Mark Quigley and Karl Sheppard respond to hamstring pain. "It's important we enjoy tonight, but they look after themselves. If drink would help us, I'd go and drink with them, but we won't drink, no."
Croly was thrilled with his side's final showing. "Managers get too much credit when it goes good and we get too much sometimes when it doesn't," said Croly. "It's all about the group."
"This result will give us confidence, we can kick on but unless we recover and prepare for Tuesday, well then we'll be in the doldrums on Tuesday."
Drogheda also have to pick themselves up for a trip to Limerick after this humiliation which bucked the recent trend of tightly contested cup deciders needing extra-time. This was an unprecedented outcome, and not just for the Setanta Cup.
In the 91-year history of the FAI Cup, no team has scored more than four goals in a final, while the other domestic and cross-border competitions have had a two-legged element which make comparison difficult.
Placed in that context, this was an extraordinary display from the Hoops or a desperate capitulation from the Louthmen, depending on your perspective.
Perhaps the truth lay somewhere in between, with Drogheda boss Mick Cooke admitting that his players heads dropped as the game progressed. "Having gone two goals down, we should have closed up to go in 2-0 down at half-time," said Cooke, with reference to the early strikes from James Chambers and Sean O'Connor that were aided by sloppy defending. "To concede a third goal just before half-time knocked the stuffing out of us."
That strike was created by Ronan Finn for Sheppard and, after providing the assist on that occasion, the man of the match went on to score twice ahead of a consolation from Gary O'Neill and then Billy Dennehy's late double. Drogheda sampled EA Sports Cup joy at Tallaght last September and Finn admitted avenging that loss was sweet.
"You'd nearly feel for Drogheda," he said, "but, actually, I don't because they turned us over in the League Cup and they celebrated, trust me, in that game so it was nice to get a bit of revenge."
Finn now believes that the victors can push on and go in search of the league title, starting with the big date in Inchicore. "It's the main thing that we play for and there's no way we are defeatist about our position.
Shamrock Rovers – Murphy, Sullivan, Foran, McGuinness, Ledwith; Chambers, Rice; O'Connor (Kilduff 71), Finn, Dennehy; Sheppard (Quigley 61 (McCabe 77)).
Drogheda United – Sava, Gannon (McNally 71), Prendergast, Byrne, Grimes; Cassidy, Daly (O'Conor 60); Rusk (O'Brien 60), R Brennan, G Brennan; O'Neill.
Ref – Rob Rogers (Dublin).