Drogheda United 3 Shelbourne 1
Shelbourne manager Damien Duff revealed he was left speechless after last week’s clash with St Patrick’s Athletic was called off, but admitted it was no excuse as the Reds fell to defeat to Drogheda United.
Ryan Brennan hit a superb brace either side of Dayle Rooney’s stunning 56th-minute volley, after Jack Moylan put the Reds ahead on seven minutes.
Kevin Doherty’s side closed the gap on Shels to one point with their first league win in five.
Shelbourne returned to league action after last Sunday’s clash against St Pat’s was called off less than 48 hours out, as Tim Clancy’s side were stranded in Bulgaria following their European away win over CSKA Sofia.
St Pat’s cited “immense difficulties sourcing charters”, and Shelbourne labelled the situation “incredibly unfair” afterwards, and pointed to the fact they have played just two home games in three months.
“The stuff that went on last week, I’m speechless, if only people knew,” said Duff, after Shelbourne’s three-game winning streak came to an end at Head in the Game Park.
“I’m sure the FAI’s disciplinary committee will do the right thing. It was nonsense stuff. I’m not going to get into it, but the players were very, very angry, as was everyone. I hope people will know soon what went on. Let’s see if it all does come out, that’s all say.
“It’s no excuse for what has happened here (in Drogheda),” Duff continued. “I don’t know, I’m no expert in sports science. You obviously want to keep playing, but to have two weeks without a game, who knows if it had an effect?”
Doherty opted for four changes after last week’s shock 3-0 defeat to Finn Harps, as Keith Cowan, Dylan Grimes, Dean Williams and Georgie Poynton came in for Chris Lyons, Dan Massey, Darragh Nugent and Adam Foley.
Duff made one change from the first-round FAI Cup win a fortnight ago, as new signing Matty Smith replaced Josh Giurgi.
The visitors took the lead on seven minutes. Moylan pounced on a loose pass by Poynton on the halfway line and charged down the pitch, before the 20-year-old coolly slotted his sixth goal of 2022.
Shels’ top goalscorer Sean Boyd left the pitch injured on 20 minutes following a collision, before Smith saw his deflected effort sail just over.
The hosts slowly began to get a foothold on the game and tested Clarke with a flurry of shots.
They soon found a leveller on the half-hour mark, as Brennan smashed Dayle Rooney’s cross into the net for his sixth goal of the season.
Rooney fired Drogheda into the lead on the hour mark though, with a sensational volley into the top corner.
The 24-year-old was inches from a second minutes later but sent his header just wide.
Brennan secured the three points with 10 minutes remaining, as he completed his brace with a beautiful half-volley past Clarke.
The clash ended on a sour note however, as the PA system asked some individuals in the away section to “stop abusing the fourth official”, after a lengthy stoppage in play.
Drogheda United – McCabe; Poynton, Quinn, Cowan (Massey 87), Weir; Deegan, Brennan, Rooney; Markey (Noone 90), Grimes (Nugent 72), Williams.
Shelbourne – Clarke; Kane (Giurgi 69), Ledwidge, Byrne, Griffin, Smith; Molloy, Lunney (McManus 60); Moylan (Carr 69), Boyd (Wilson 17), Farrell.
Ref – J McGloughlin.
League of Ireland
Dundalk will head to Tallaght Stadium next week with the chance to close the gap at the the top of table with Shamrock Rovers to just a single point, albeit with a game more played, after holding out for a huge win over Bohemians at Dalymount Park.