Elding fairytale a nightmare for wronged Drogs

Anthony Elding said he couldn’t have written the script better as his dream ending to the season saw him win the FAI Ford Cup for Sligo Rovers.

The club’s 31-year-old top scorer was somewhat surprisingly given a start ahead of Danny North. Though in some additional fairytale script writing, North came off the bench, scored twice and provided the assist for Elding’s winner to finish man of the match.

“It’s fantastic. It’ssomething that I’ve dreamt about and to do it in that fashion is phenomenal,” said Elding. “To do it at our end in front of our supporters is first class, I don’t think you could have written a script like that.”

Having been gutted not to start, North was naturally delighted with his thrilling epilogue.

“I knew I’d get on at some point, to be honest. You get your head right on the day and when you get your chance you make sure you do all you can to be in the right frame of mind. Thankfully, I was.”

Manager Ian Baraclough felt he got the call spot on. “It’s the hardest part of the job, telling people they’re not playing, but Danny channelled it the right way. He came up with the goods and obviously worked well with Anthony for the third goal, and what a finish, a great goal.”

The result was harsh on Drogheda — the better side for much of the game before its manic finish — who felt they were the victim of the game’s controversial moment for Sligo’s second goal.

Referee Paul Tuite didn’t blow his whistle for Joseph Ndo to take the free-kick for North to score.

Drogheda captain Derek Prendergast, who was harshly booked when conceding the free, was then sent off as Drogheda players surrounded Tuite.

“I originally gave away the free-kick,” explained Prendergast. “When he was booking me, I asked him, ‘do they want 10 yards or do they take it quick?’ He says, ‘no, I’m going to give 10 yards’.

“With that a minute or two had passed before the free-kick was taken. My reaction then was straight away ‘you never blew the whistle’.

“One of the lads grabbed him on the shoulder as he was looking away. He turned around and saw me first, pointed at me and said he was giving me a yellow. I said, ‘I’m grabbing my players away from you, I want to have a word’. He gave me the yellow card and then all of a sudden he just got word in his ear that I was already booked and he looked as shocked as anyone.”

Prendergast said Tuite admitted to him when he spoke after the final whistle that he had made a mistake.

“He basically just said sorry to me and dropped his head. [But] Paul is one of the best referees in the league and I have a lot of time for him. It’s one of those mistakes.

“If he says sorry, it just makes things even worse for us because obviously he is admitting that it was a mistake.”

Drogheda boss Mick Cooke, in what was his last game for the club, added: “I can’t be prouder of the players and what they gave.

“It was a tremendous final. I thought we had the chances to kill them off. We needed the second goal obviously. But the way we bounced back from 2-1 down to nearly get the extra-time showed the character of the lads I’ve had here for the last couple of years.

“It’s just a pity that we’ve lost three cup finals in the one season. But the big thing is that they were there for the three of them. Hopefully they will go on and win medals somewhere.”

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