Ballynanty Rovers 0-4 Drogheda United
BALLYNANTY Rovers exited the FAI Ford Cup at the last 16 stage after being outclassed by SSE Airtricity League Premier Division side Drogheda United at the Fairgreen on Sunday afternoon.
Two first half goals from Gavan Holohan were followed by a second half brace from Gary O’Neill as last season’s beaten finalists eased past the Limerick junior club.
Ballynanty made a fine start to the game and tore into their Louth opponents in the first 10 minutes, with Danny McInerney’s early header forcing a save from Michael Schlingermann and Alex Purcell crossing to Jamie Brommell, who narrowly missed out on getting a touch to the ball.
Balla’s early intensity was short-lived, though, as Drogheda soon imposed their superiority on proceedings. Declan O’Brien had the ball in the Limerick side’s net on 15 minutes but ‘Fabio’ was in an offside position and the goal was chalked off.
Ballynanty goalkeeper Stephen McNamara became a local legend after his multiple penalty shoot-out saves in his team’s FAI Junior Cup semi-final win earlier this year and he had another magnificent game here. He made the first of many excellent stops in the 19th minute to repel Gavin Brennan’s 20-yard drive.
There was nothing he could do, however, to prevent Drogheda from taking the lead after 24 minutes. Daire Doyle crossed to Holohan and he headed to the net from close range.
Drogheda continued to pour forward and McNamara’s saves from O’Neill, Doyle and Peter McGlynn kept the margin at one goal as half-time approached.
The visitors had another disallowed goal but extended their lead just before the interval when Holohan finished to the net from just inside the Ballynanty penalty area, leaving Damien Conway’s men with an uphill task in the second half.
Any hope of a memorable comeback was ended within 100 seconds of the restart after O’Neill got the key touch to Brennan’s low cross, although the provider appeared to be visibly offside just before supplying the assist.
McGlynn almost made it 4-0 on 50 minutes, only for his shot to crash off the post, and the visitors had yet another goal ruled out just before the hour mark, the referee’s assistant this time spotting the offside.
The game was beyond Ballynanty at this point, but they were not found wanting for spirit or effort and, to Drogheda’s credit, they didn’t ease up despite being so far ahead. There was a cheer from the home fans in the 71st minute when Balla substitute Dean O’Brien tried an audacious overhead kick, but unfortunately it didn’t come off.
Drogheda went four goals up with 15 minutes to go after O’Neill found the bottom corner of McNamara’s net, Ballynanty being punished for failing to get the ball clear.
The remainder of the match was seen out with ease by the Boynesiders, who will be back in Limerick later in the week for a league game against Martin Russell’s Super Blues.
As expected, Drogheda proved to have far too much quality for Ballynanty, but the FAI Junior Cup finalists were certainly not disgraced on this rainy afternoon at Fairgreen.
Ballynanty Rovers: McNamara, Hughes, Dunphy, Earls (D Daly 67), S Doran, Purcell, Ryan, McInerney, Hanlon (O’Brien 67), Radcliffe (B Doran 60), Brommell.
Drogheda United: Schlingermann, Doyle, McNally, McGuigan, Grimes (Kierans 52), McGlynn (G Brady 65), Daly (Crowley 52), Holohan, Brennan, O’Neill, O’Brien.