EA Sports Cup holders Drogheda United cruised into the semi-final of the competition with a facile victory over Cork City. All three goals came in the first-half as Cork had no response in the second period.
The defeat will no doubt heap more pressure on the embattled Tommy Dunne as Drogheda received a well needed confidence boost ahead of Thursday night’s clash against Malmo.
With the Malmo manager in attendance Mick Cooke made six changes to the side which lost 3-0 to Shamrock Rovers on Friday night, most notably was the decision to move Gavin Brennan to left back and Mick Daly to right back, Michael Schlingermann also started ahead of Gabriel Sava.
Drogheda started the brighter, but Cork could have taken the lead when on five minutes Adam Rundle released Daryl Kavanagh and the striker got goal side of Alan McNally, however some hesitancy from Kavanagh allowed McNally get back and make a decisive tackle inside the box.
However, that was to be the best chance of the half for Cork as Drogheda came into their own and on 24 minutes they took the lead. A ball into the Cork box was only cleared as far as Jason Marks and the midfielder took a touch before hitting a screamer from 25 yards right into the top corner.
Ian Turner didn’t have his finest night, the midfielder was on set piece duty for the Leesiders and his corners left a lot to be desired.
The Boynesiders almost doubled their lead on 39 minutes when Gary O’Neill attempted another overhead kick which was blocked, but again the Cork defence could only clear as far as a Drogheda player and Mick Daly squared the ball to Ryan Brennan who dummied it under his leg for brother Gavin to shoot from 35 yards out but his effort went too high.
Three minutes later and the Boynesiders had doubled their lead, Derek Prendergast fired a shot goalward from five yards out and it was blocked but the ball rebounded to Alan McNally who powered his header home.
With 45 minutes on the clock Paul O’Conor was one-on-one with Danny Murphy and his shot came off the Cork defenders arm and Paul Tuite pointed to the spot. With Declan O’Brien on the bench, Ryan Brennan stepped up and slotted the ball neatly in the left hand corner.
Clearly Tommy Dunne had a few choice words for his team and they started the second-half the brighter, an early corner found Adam Rundle at the back post but he could only nod the ball back across the face of goal and Drogheda cleared.
Daryl Kavanagh capitalised on a Drogheda defensive error and raced into the box but his effort was tame and Schlingermann easily gathered.
Cork sensed that there was no real way back into the game as a sense of confidence returned to Drogheda and they put some nice moves together. With the full-time whistle imminent Declan O’Brien almost scored what would have been his seventh goal in six games against Cork as he side stepped Kevin Burns only for Kalen Spillane to hook his effort off the line.
Kevin Burns then denied Ryan Brennan a second goal as the midfielder failed to beat the onrushing keeper.
Drogheda United: Michael Schlingermann; Michael Daly, Alan McNally, Derek Prendergast, Gavin Brennan (Shane Grimes 60); Graham Rusk, Paul O’Conor, Jason Marks, Alan Byrne (Brian Gannon HT), David Cassidy, Ryan Brennan; Gary O’Neill (Declan O’Brien 68).
Subs not used: Gabriel Sava, Stephen Quigley, Cathal Brady, Graham Rusk.
Bookings: David Cassidy, Derek Prendergast
Cork City: Kevin Burns; Garry Buckley, Darren Dennehy (John Kavanagh 22 ), Kalen Spillane, Danny Murphy; Ian Turner, John Dunleavy, Shane Duggan, Adam Rundle; Daryl Kavanagh (Danny Furlong 61), Denis Behan (Rob Lehane 57).
Subs not used: Mark McNulty, Stephen Kenny, Daryl Horgan, Eoghan Murphy.
Bookings: Adam Rundle
Referee: Paul Tuite