From Gerard Grimes at United Park
Goals from captain Ronan Finn and midfielder Brandon Miele secured a 2-0 victory for Shamrock Rovers against Drogheda United at United Park on Saturday afternoon.
The Hoops started on the front foot as James Doona was set through on goal just a minute in before shooting into the side netting.
However, the flag was already up for offside, something which would be a common occurrence for Rovers in the first half.
Already relegated Drogheda looked to catch the Hoops on the counter from that attack as teenager Mark Doyle broke forward on the left but his cross was cleared easily by the Rovers defence.
The home side were creating some chances and found one on seven minutes as Shane Elworthy was released on the right wing.
He beat his man before playing a cross towards Stephen Elliott on the edge of the box but the former Ireland international could only hit his volley over the bar.
Rovers began to take control and were finding gaps in the Drogheda backline but were again frustrated by their failure to beat the offside trap with Brandon Miele the next player guilty of straying offside.
The visitors were playing good football and Finn looked to have played the ball into the path of Gary Shaw in the box, only for a superb challenge by Luke Gallagher to sweep the ball away from his feet.
The majority of Rovers’ chances were coming through 19-year-old Doona and he had another effort on 21 minutes as he created space outside the box before letting fly, firing just wide.
Doona would have the first shot on target of this game too on 37 minutes from the break as his low volley from the edge of the box was easily gathered by ‘keeper Stephen McGuinness.
However, it was United who should have taken the lead just three minutes before the break as Sean Brennan’s corner was met by the unmarked Stephen Elliott who could only head wide.
It took Rovers just seven minutes after the break to find the first goal as Miele was played through on the left, held the ball up for his onrushing teammates and squared to Finn, who tapped into an empty net for his fifth league goal of the campaign.
Rovers almost found a second on 68 minutes as half time substitute Cameron King played through Shaw who broke into the box forcing McGuinness to push the ball out for a corner.
The Hoops would double their lead a minute later though as Miele found the bottom corner following neat build up involving himself, Shaw and Doona on the right of the Drogheda box.
Rovers continued to look for a third and sub Sean Boyd forced another low save out of McGuinness before he shot narrowly wide with just minutes to play. Rovers need just one more win from their remaining three league games to confirm European football for next season.
Drogheda United: Stephen McGuinness; Colm Deasy, Lloyd Buckley, Luke Gallagher, Conor Kane; Richie Purdy, Ryan McEvoy (Jack Bayly 67), Sean Brennan (C); Shane Elworthy, Stephen Elliott (Stephen Meaney 65), Mark Doyle (Adam Wixted 82).
Unused Subs: Dylan Sweeney (GK), Kevin Farragher, Sean Russell, Jamie Hollywood.
Shamrock Rovers: Tomer Chencinski; Dean Carpenter, Lee Grace, David Webster, Simon Madden; Ryan Connolly, James Doona, Brandon Miele, Ronan Finn (C) (Sean Boyd 72), David McAllister (Cameron King 46); Gary Shaw (Michael O’Connor 72).
Unused Subs: Kevin Horgan (GK), Luke Byrne, Darren Clarke, Sam Bone.
Booked: Ronan Finn (41), Brandon Miele (78), Michael O’Connor (81).
Referee: Damien McGrath.
Attendance: 500 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Brandon Miele (Shamrock Rovers).