Drogheda United put their Longford Town woe behind them to register their second win of the season and their first points on home soil courtesy of a five star show against a lightweight UCD.
Quickfire goals from from Mark Doyle and Jordan Adeyemo put the Drogs in control early on and although the Students, under the tutelage of former Drogheda favourite Andy Myler, showed enough in response to suggest they may be capable of a comeback, it never materialised.
Chris Lyons and Jack Tuite had United four to the good at the break. Jack Kerrigan and Sean Brennan swapped goals in the second half. Over the course of the 90 minutes, there will be delight at how prolific United were in front of goal.
The Drogs made just one change from the team that went down on the Windmill Road last week – Jordan Adeyemo replacing Adam Wixted. The teenager repaid his manager’s faith with a goal, assist and penalty win. It was a night when everything went right for Drogheda.
Bar an injury to James Brown, which may not be serious after all, it was normal service resumed for the pre-season promotion favourites. UCD were included, by many, in that conversation too but they will need to find their feet back in the second tier soon. They did show glimpses, to be fair to them.
Tim Clancy will surely have been aware his side had lost three of their last four against UCD – two of them were under his watch the last time the sides shared a division two seasons ago.
The goals from from Doyle and Adeyemo on eight and nine minutes repsectively put the Drogs in control early on. Doyle’s first time finish from Luke Heeney’s cross was a delight and Adeyemo showed strength and composure to slot home for 2-0.
UCD were down but not out and Kerrigan went close as they came on strong, briefly.
But the home side soon regained control and on 17 minutes, it was 3-0. Jake Hyland found Adeyemo in the area and his square ball picked out Chris Lyons. He was afforded too much room by even the standards of the most generous defences. The striker had ample time to set himself and dispatch a low shot past Healy.
UCD were adamant that the linesman’s flag should have been raised and centre half Jack Collins was a little too insistent. His angry protests earned him a booking from referee Adriano Reale.
The game entered a relative lull at that point. UCD were down and out while the home side were, if anything, too comfortable. There was nothing of note to report until their fourth arrived. It came via a Luke Heeney corner. When that wasn’t properly cleared, it fell to centre back Jack Tuite who touched in.
Ostensibly brought in as Luke McNally’s replacement in close season, that was the 23-year-old’s first career goal. Drogheda are the fourth team he has represented in the League of Ireland since his debut in 2016. He has a long way to go to match the goalscoring exploits of his predecessor.
The Students did offer something, if little considering the deficit, in response. Ex-Sligo midfielder Jack Keaney curled a 35-yard free kick wide and then a promising break for the away side ended when Paul Doyle skewed badly wide of goal.
On the cusp of half time, Yousef Mahdy’s through ball left Kerrigan through on goal but with only David Odumuso to beat, he contrived to get both his feet and his angles mixed up and his effort was no danger to the United goal.
The second period didn’t offer the thrills of the first and with nothing to play for, there were few spills either for the United Park crowd to enjoy or endure. The small mercy for the loyal band of UCD support who had travelled to Drogheda was that at least it wasn’t a wasted night for many.
Few spills, that is, until Jack Kerrigan put in his claim for goal of the game with a stylish finish with the outside of his right foot. The goal was at least something for Myler and his young charges to take from their trip Boyneside.
Ten minutes later, Drogheda restored their four goal cushion. It came from a UCD attack. Luke Boore’s goalbound header was cleared by Kane and United moved upfield. Lyons surged into the UCD half of the field and his smart pass set Adeyemo away.
The 19-year-old was rounding Healey but the goalkeeper stopping him in his tracks – illegally so. Sean Brennan, a half time sub, expertly put the penalty away.
Conor Kane, unquestionably a fan favourite had the best moment of the second half prior to the goals when his interception and length-of-the-field run had Drogs home fans off their feet. His low cross just evaded Lyons.
The latter hit the bar late on from Douglas’ downward header but Drogheda couldn’t get six. They won’t mind that. The Longford defeat seven days previous was well and truly exorcised. Next, they travel to Tallaght to face…Shamrock Rovers II.
DROGHEDA UNITED: David Odumuso, James Brown (Sean Brennan, 46), Derek Prendergast, Jack Tuite, Conor Kane, Jake Hyland (James Clarke, 75), Luke Heeney (Hugh Douglas, 57), Jordan Adeyemo, Richie O’Farrell, Mark Doyle, Chris Lyons.
Subs: Ross Treacy, Adam Wixted, Stephen Meaney, Ryan O’Shea.
UCD AFC: Lorcan Healy, Harry McEvoy, Josh Collins, Luke Boore, Evan Weir, Evan Farrell, Jack Keaney, Paul Doyle, Liam Kerrigan, Yousef Mahdy (Sean McDonald, 53), Colm Whelan (Mark Dignam, 62).
Subs: Eoghan O’Sullivan, Abdel Babiker, Danu Bishop-Kinsella, Michael O’Keane, Michael Gallagher.
REFEREE: Adriano Reale