O'Neill praises players as Hoops keep rolling along
FOUR goals scored, another clean sheet and joint top of the table. Not a bad afternoon's work for Shamrock Rovers and manager Michael O'Neill.
"The players kept their focus and did what they had to do. We won 4-0 and it could have been double that. I'm very pleased. It's another game out of the way, another three points and it keeps everything in our own hands," said O'Neill.
Having made six changes to the team that started against Tottenham last Thursday, O'Neill emphasised the importance of using his squad to the full.
"We have played 50-odd games this season so we need the squad. It was good to be able to bring in the lads; if we didn't have that luxury we wouldn't be able to continue the way we are," he said.
O'Neill admitted it was hard to get the players up for this game. "It was mentally tough. We walked out the other night in front of 30,000 fans and into a great atmosphere. Today was a bit flat," he said.
"But the players are focused. They know what's at stake, they know what's required of them and the European experience is a great motivation for them to do everything possible to win the league again."
The Hoops took the lead in the 23rd minute when Rohan Ricketts' right-footed corner was headed in by Karl Sheppard from just under the crossbar. Drogheda manager Mick Cooke will be wondering why goalkeeper Stephen Trimble didn't do better from the cross.
Three minutes before half-time, it was 2-0. Sheppard's header found Ciaran Kilduff, who managed to get past Alan McNally before rounding Trimble and finishing into an empty net.
It took the champions until the 70th minute to get their third. Brian Gannon was adjudged to have fouled Kilduff inside the box and substitute Billy Dennehy smashed his spot-kick into the roof of the net. Three became four in the 81st minute when Gary O'Neill, another substitute, finished well after good play from Dennehy.
Shamrock Rovers -- Brush; Sullivan, Stevens, Sives (Dennehy 45), Murray; Ricketts, Paterson, McCormack (Finn 77), Turner; Kilduff, Sheppard (O'Neill 71).
Drogheda United -- Trimble; Gaul, Hand, McNally, Rogers; Fitzgerald (Quigley 45), Brennan, Gannon (Mulvenna 79), McMahon; Lynch, White (Corcoran 60).
REF -- T Connolly.