A late flurry of goals put a gloss on Drogheda United’s FAI Cup victory over Kilkenny side Evergreen on Sunday afternoon with a Chris Mulhall brace helping them through to the second round.
The game was only seven minutes old when Mulhall scored the first of his two goals, clipping a simple finish past Evergreen keeper Philly Johnston, having been set by a wonderful run followed by a perfectly weighted through ball from Conor Kane.
There followed half an hour of constant pressure from the Premier Division side but Mulhall passed up a second on 28 minutes as he shot woefully high after Jack Bayly had played him through on goal.
Adam Wixted saw his effort blocked by Evergreen’s Mikey Drennan five minutes later and two minutes after that Mulhall, just six yards out and with the goal at his mercy, watched in horror as his downwards header from Shane Elworthy’s cross bounced off the artificial suface and up over the bar.
With Dave Mulcahy, who started his career at Evergreen, offering much needed leadership from the back, and Kane playing very effectively down the left, Drogheda were in complete control, but the visitors were almost caught out two minutes before the break.
Conor English chested down a diagonal pass some 25 yards from goal and hammered the bouncing ball over Stephen McGuinness only to see the ball wallop off the far post. Despite all their possession Drogheda held the slimmest advantage at the break and for the first 25 minutes of the second half they were continually thwarted by Evergreen.
With twenty minutes to play Pete Mahon sent Ryan Masterson on for Bayly and within a minute the substitute had doubled Drogheda’s lead. A route-one ball was misjudged by Evergreen centre back Dylan Whearty and Masterson pounced to guide the ball past the fatally exposed Johnston.
Oddly, this second goal spurred Evergreen on and they enjoyed their best period of the game, Joe Keohane coming closet to pulling one back when his firmly hit shot from the edge of the box almost squirmed out of McGuinness’s hands.
But with nine minutes on the clock Drogheda put the tie firmly to bed, knocking in a third from close range as the non-league side tired.
Another sub, Mark Doyle, headed in a fourth from Wixted’s corner on 86 minutes and, in truth, the Louth side might have added one or two more in the final minutes.
Having always insisted in playing a passing game Evergreen did themselves proud against higher level opposition and were rightly applauded from the field by their supporters but it is Drogheda who progress to the next stage of the Daily Mail FAI Cup.
Evergreen: Philly Johnston; Sam Johnston, Nial Andrews, Dylan Whearty, Joe Keohane; Ben Hickey (Ciaran Snype 70), Mikey Drennan, Robbie Quan, Conor English (Peter Henebry 85); Chris Whearty (Dean Cornally 87); Sean Barcoe.
Subs Not Used: Chris Keane, Tony Delaney, Jamie Owens, Brian Jordan.
Booked: Robbie Quan (50).
Drogheda United: Stephen McGuinness; Shane Elworthy, Stephen Dunne, Dave Mulcahy, Conor Kane; Adam Wixted, Jake Hyland (Ryan McEvoy 79), Richie Purdy, Sean Russell (Mark Doyle 82); Jack Bayly (Ryan Masterson 69); Chris Mulhall.
Subs Not Used: Harry Hogan, Lloyd Buckley, Luke Gallagher, Ciaran McGuigan.
Referee: Jim McKell.
Attendance: 150 (estimate).
Extratime Man of the Match: Cone Kane (Drogheda United).