Cooke can finally celebrate as Drogs triumph

Shamrock Rovers 1 Drogheda United 3

The 61-year-old had little to show for his efforts in an on-off 42-year association with the domestic game as player and manager.

“Yes,” he beamed, “the only winner’s trophy that I have in my own (playing) career is a league cup winner’s medal with Shamrock Rovers.

“It’s obviously my first senior trophy (as manager). I played in six finals and lost five. It’s been a long time coming. I lost this one two years ago up in Sligo.

“I thought we fully deserved it,” he added of Drogheda winning the trophy for the first time since 1984.

A slow burner of a game finally caught fire on 21 minutes when Rovers missed a terrific chance to take the lead. Midfielder Ronan Finn, one-on-one with the keeper, drove his shot straight at Gabriel Sava’s legs.

Drogheda took the lead on 32 minutes. Gavin Brennan’s low cross in from the end line was turned home at the near post by Declan O’Brien.

Drogheda doubled their lead two minutes before the break when Philip Hand’s low corner was punched by keeper Oscar Jansson against right-back Kerrea Gilbert with the ball ricocheting to the net for an own goal.

Rovers looked to have got back into the game on 59 minutes when Killian Brennan found the top corner with a brilliant free-kick.

But Drogheda hit back within two minutes, Eric Foley’s drive deflecting off Hoops’ skipper Stephen Rice to wrong-foot Jansson and hit the back of the net.

Left-back Conor Powell receiving a straight red for pulling down O’Brien in a “last man” challenge on 72 minutes just about summed up Rovers’ day.

“I thought the performance probably shows what was happening over the last few weeks,” said Rovers’ boss Brian Laws.

“Confidence has been shot over the last few weeks and that has shown in the performances.

“On the evidence of (Saturday) we’ve got some hard work on our hands.”

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Jansson; Gilbert, Sives, Hawkins, Powell; Finn, Rice, Brennan, McCabe (Dennehy, 60); Kilduff (Twigg, 65) , Stewart (Kavanagh, 60).

DROGHEDA UNITED: Sava; Gannon, McNally, Prendergast, Hand; Foley, Crowley; O’Brien (S. Brennan, 90+2,) , R. Brennan, G. Brennan; Hynes (Mulvenna, 90).

Referee: Tomas Connolly (Dublin).

Attendance: 3,120.

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