Shamrock Rovers title challenge was given fresh impetus after a resounding 3-0 win away to Drogheda United in the Airtricity Premier Division.

Gary McCabe came off the bench to head Rovers into the lead before Sean O’Connor hit a wonder strike to put Rovers two up.

McCabe then finished the rout to secure Rovers second away win of the season.

A heavily depleted Drogheda United started the brighter as Graham Rusk almost picked out Gavin Brennan at the back post, but Richard Brush intervened.

They Boynesiders had a penalty shout a minute later as Rusk was bundled over in the box by Derek Foran - the referee waved away the appeals.

Chances were few and far between in the opening period, but the Hoops might have opened the scoring on 15 minutes as former Drog James Chambers whipped in a ball to the back post for Billy Dennehy to head un-marked - however the shot was just wide.

Nine minutes later and again Rovers were presented with a great chance as Sean O’Connor, from a free, picked out Ken Oman at the back post and the defender headed the ball across the face of goal but there was no-one there to capitalise.

The Boynesiders best effort came late in the first half when Peter Hynes spotted Richard Brush off his line and from just over half-way he attempted a shot which saw the keeper scrambling back to save.

The Hoops were denied twice by Gabriel Sava and this promoted Croly into making two quick changes as Pat Sullivan and Gary McCabe were introduced and it was the latter who was to prove more effective.

Three minutes on the pitch and he had beaten the Italian at the back post as Stephen Rice played a sweet ball to the back post. Sixty seconds later and Sean O’Connor, with space, 40 yards out, hit a wonder strike to leave the keeper with no chance.

The win was secured on 74 minutes as Sean O’Connor this time turned provider and he picked out McCabe, who had an easy task to head home from close range.

The win moves Rovers closer to the top four while Drogheda are beginning a descent towards the bottom of the table.

Drogheda United: Gabriel Sava; Shane Grimes, Derek Prendergast, Michael Daly, Stephen Quigley; Gavin Brennan (Jason Marks 79), Paul O’Conor (Ciaran McGahon 79), Brian Gannon , Graham Rusk (Cathal Brady 79); Peter Hynes, Gary O’Neill

Shamrock Rovers: Richard Brush; Conor Powell, Derek Foran, Ken Oman, Conor McCormack; Sean O’Connor (Pat Sullivan 57), James Chambers (Shane Robinson 75), Stephen Rice, Ronan Finn, Billy Dennehy (Gary McCabe 66); Thomas Stewart