Shamrock Rovers began their defence of the Leinster Senior Cup with a thumping 5-1 triumph over Drogheda United at Tallaght Stadium on Wednesday night.
The goals began to flow after ten minutes when Gary McCabe slotted home a penalty. Simon Madden doubled the lead three minutes later and Marty Waters added a third.
Drogheda enjoyed a brief reprieve through a stunning goal from Carl Walshe but second half goals from Conor Kenna and Ciaran Kilduff secured an impressive return to competitive action for the Hoops while leaving United boss Robbie Horgan with much to ponder.
The game began at a lively pace with Brennan brothers Ryan and Gavin almost splitting their respective opponents defences in two with almost inch perfect passes, but both efforts were thwarted at the last by defensive interventions.
The breakthrough for Rovers came after nine minutes. A pass through from Robert Bayly set Eamon Zayed away and after he was hacked down by Daire Doyle, the referee pointed to the spot.
McCabe stepped up to the plate and after giving keeper David Ryan the eyes, he slid the ball calmly into the corner of the net to give the Hoops a dream start.
That start was made even sweeter just three minutes later as superb link up play between Waters and goalscorer McCabe led to the latter slipping Madden in on goal.
The returning right back duly provided an expert finish into the top corner from the edge of the area, giving the despairing Ryan no chance.
A good first half got even better midway through as on 23 minutes, a fine pass from Bayly found Waters and he slalomed his way through a helpless United rearguard before sliding the ball under Ryan to ad number three.
With ten minutes till the half. Drogheda had a goal of their own. Good work in the Hoops half led to Walshe picking up the ball at the edge of the area.
He took one look at Murphy before expertly curving the ball past the keeper into the top corner to bring United back into the game.
Rovers may easily added a fourth on the stroke of half time. The impressive Waters slid McCabe in on the left, he then got to the by line before cutting it back to the edge of the box for Bayly to step into and fire inches over Ryan’s ever peppered crossbar.
The second half had an altogether quieter opening, the only chance of note for either side coming by the left foot of Austin McCann whose swerving effort was well stopped by the ever agile Murphy.
Just past the hour mark, the crowd where brought to their feet. Not for a goal, but for the return of Gary O’Neill following his battle with cancer.
Drogheda had a real call for a penalty turned down twenty minutes from time when a push in the back by Luke Byrne on Fabio O’Brien was not seen by the referee, to the dismay of the United faithful.
United’s hopes of a late comeback were squashed with little over ten minutes remaining. A Waters corner was typically on point and under pressure, a Drogheda player headed it back into danger.
The ball was met then by Hoops captain Kenna who looped his header over Ryan and into the empty net to put the tie beyond the Louth men.
With five minutes left, Rovers added insult to injury with a fifth goal. Sub Dean Kelly found space on the right to slip a well weighted ball through to Kilduff.
The Kildare native did the honours dispatching the ball calmly past Ryan into the bottom corner to give some closure to a fine nights work from the striker and his side.
Shamrock Rovers: Barry Murphy; Simon Madden, Conor Kenna, David O’Connor, Luke Byrne; Gary McCabe (Dean Kelly 79), Robert Bayly (Shane Robinson 75), Ryan Brennan, Marty Waters; Eamon Zayed (Ronan Finn 75), Ciaran Kilduff.
Subs not used: Craig Hyland (GK), Robert Cornwall, Daniel Purdy, Sean O’Connor.
Booked: Bayly (41) Finn (90)
Drogheda United: David Ryan; Michael Daly, Austin McCann (Gary O’Neill 64), Alan McNally, Eric Foley; Cathal Brady (Gavan Holohan 76) , Paul Crowley, Daire Doyle, Gavin Brennan; Carl Walshe; Philip Hughes (Fabio O’Brien 11).
Subs not used: Michael Schlingermann (GK)
Booked: Doyle (9)
Referee: Ben Connolly
Attendance: 700 est
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Marty Waters (Shamrock Rovers)