On a cold dewy night in the Hunky Dorys park, Drogheda United just about came out on top against League champions Sligo Rovers winning by two goals to one. Goals came from Alan McNally and Brian Gannon for the home side and a goal for Liam Bunchanan for the the travelling Sligo. Sligo being champions had only form to play for where Drogheda needed two points from the final two games to gain a place in the Europa League.
Sligo possibly suffering from a hangover after winning the league didn’t really get into the game in the first half. Drogehda had all the play and created three clear cut chances in the first half excluding the goal. Drogheda’s central men McGunniess, Brennan and Hynes were the key to their solid start. The “Drog’s” chances mainly coming from the wings where Hand and Quigley showed great fitness and supported the play with great affect. Drogheda’s main chances came from Gannon with a miss directed volley from the right corner of the 6 yard box. Eventually the goal came for Drogheda and they went ahead with a stooping heard in the 31st minute from Captain Alan McNally.
Straight away the second half changed the outlook of the game. Within two minutes of the restart Sligo drew level with what was the most controversial moment in the game. Bunchanan got on the end of a cross from Cretaro and struck it home from only a matter of yards out in the 46th minute. The home team certain that Bunchanan was offside, protested to linesman Mark Douglas. After discussions between Douglas and Referee Tom Connolly, Connolly gave Declan O’Brien his second yellow and was sent to the dressing room. Drogheda ‘Keeper Sava was certain the goal should not have stood. “I’m not happy with the goal, I thought it was offside, the lino (linesman) was in line with the ball but I don’t think he saw it and he let it go”.
In the 89th minute Gannon struck a ball from the left hand corner of the box which deflected off Gavin Peers and went past ‘keeper Brush. That goal sees Drogheda into European Football next season. ‘Keeper Gabriel Sava was very excited at the prospect of European football, “I can’t wait, it’ll be my first time playing in Europe and I’m really looking forward to it”.
In a nice gesture, Mike Cook, Drogheda Manager led the onrushing crowd and players towards the away stand to applaud Sligo on their League victory.
By Killian Murphy