After a difficult month, two goals from Gary Twigg helped Shamrock Rovers return to winning ways with a comfortable victory over Drogheda United in their Airtricity League Premier Division clash at Tallaght Stadium last night.
After dropping nine points in their previous four league outings, it was imperative that the hosts seized the initiative from the opening whistle and Gary O'Neill should have handed them the perfect start when clean through on goal in the fifth minute, but his shot from 16 yards out drifted narrowly wide.
With Stephen Rice prompting intelligently from midfield, Rovers continued in the ascendancy as Gary McCabe offered a constant threat on the right wing, while Kerrea Gilbert looked to provide an overlap when possible.
McCabe's nimble footwork earned Derek Prendergast a booking in the 24th minute and after Billy Dennehy had drilled the resultant free-kick against the wall, Killian Brennan's left-footed shot from the edge of the penalty area flew inches over the crossbar.
It was of scant surprise that when the breakthrough finally arrived, McCabe was directly involved as he raced onto O'Neill's through-ball before firing low beyond Gabriel Sava from 12 yards to hand the hosts a deserved advantage.
The concession of that goal saw United show greater attacking intent, most notably through Sean Brennan and Prendergast was unfortunate to see a powerful header drift narrowly wide in the 37th minute.
At the opposite end, the centre-half showed great anticipation in heading a shot from Rice away to safety after McCabe had set his colleague up and the Hoops finished the half by being denied a second goal by a linesman's flag when Dennehy found the net after Sava had saved deftly from Twigg from another McCabe cross.
Following an error-strewn resumption to affairs, the hosts bagged a crucial second goal in the 55th minute as Twigg and O'Neill combined deftly from a McCabe delivery, before the former found the net with a powerful right-footed shot from 16 yards out.
Within two minutes, Twigg should have doubled his evening's tally when placed through on goal by O'Neill, but his shot failed to trouble Sava unduly, while Brennan tried his luck from 25 yards with a swerving effort that Sava did well to push aside for a corner.
The former Bohemians player went even closer in the 76th minute, striking the crossbar from a 30-yard free-kick, but the third clinching goal duly arrived when Twigg nodded home in the 82nd minute, with Declan O'Brien's glorious 89th-minute strike of scant consolation to the visitors.
Shamrock Rovers -- Jansson; Gilbert (Gannon 46), Oman, Sives, Powell; McCabe (McCormack 87), Rice, Brennan, Dennehy; O'Neill (Kavanagh 84), Twigg.
Drogheda UTD -- Sava; Foley, Prendergast, McNally, Hand; G Brennan, R Brennan, P Crowley (M O'Brien 64), S Brennan (Marshall 72); Mulvenna (Hynes 63), D O'Brien.
REF -- A Kelly (Cork).