Sunday 19 November 2017

McNally strikes late to punish Buckley's selection gamble


Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

LIAM BUCKLEY'S decision to rest eight players ahead of Thursday's Europa League second-leg tie with CS Maritimo backfired last night as Drogheda struck late to stun Sporting Fingal at the Morton Stadium.

The manager's priorities were there for all to see, but his cause wasn't helped by the harsh dismissal of Keith Quinn late in the first half; Drogheda's Eoghan Osbourne joined him late on.

However, that sending off didn't stop the Drogs from creating one last chance. Peter McMahon swung in an 87th-minute free-kick, which was met by a Michael Daly header, Darren Quigley parried and Alan McNally bundled the ball home.

The Sporting shake-up resulted in a disjointed opening, but Eamon Zayed broke the deadlock in fortunate fashion.

Ollie Cahill's cross was turned goalward by Kevin Dawson and Zayed, who looked offside when the ball was played, beat Osbourne to the ball to poke it past Paul Skinner.

McMahon missed a glorious chance to level at the other end. He played a neat one-two with John Flood, whose return set him up with a clear sight of goal, but he got it all wrong and fired over from 10 yards.

But McMahon made up for the miss, with Flood again the provider, taking Darren Meenan's throw-in on the turn and angling a pinpoint ball to the former UCD man, who took a touch past Colm James and beat Quigley for his first goal for the club.

Things got worse for Sporting before the break as referee Derek Tomney showed Quinn a second yellow for a foul on McNally, and a man up, Drogheda knew this was an opportunity to gain a much-needed away victory.

They had the chances. Eric McGill played a one-two with Ryan Brennan, but Quigley got a hand to his dink and Brian Gannon dived in to clear.

Quigley was beaten minutes later, only for Flood's looping header from a Glenn Fitzpatrick flick-on to come back off the post.

The superb Shaun Williams then made a heroic intervention by busting a gut to get back and bail out his defenders by cutting out a Flood cross.

Fingal nearly stole it late on, Dawson firing wide with the goal at his mercy from substitute Alan Kirby's free-kick, but McNally delivered a deserved win for the visitors.

SPORTING FINGAL -- Quigley, James, Gannon, Browne, Frost, Williams (O'Brien 80), Dawson, Quinn, Byrne (Kirby 67), Zayed, Cahill (Crowe 67).

DROGHEDA UNITED -- Skinner, Treacy, McNally, Daly, Osbourne, Meenan (McEnteggart 72), Brennan, McGill, McMahon, Flood, Fitzpatrick (Duffy70).

REF -- D Tomney (Dublin).

Irish Independent

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