Drogheda United 3-0 Wexford Youths

(Drogheda win 3-2 on aggregate)

Following a season out of Ireland’s top flight, Droghda United make an immediate return to the Premier Division after Pete Mahon’s side ran out 3-0 winners, ensuring a 3-2 aggregate win to relegate Wexford Youths in what appears to be Shane Keegan’s last game in charge.

Youths’ started the brighter and their first chance came on seven minutes when Paul Murphy lofted a pass over the top for Danny Furlong to race onto, his shot from a wide angle was high and over McGuinness’ bar.

The pressure continued as Keegan’s side continue to find space in behind the Drogheda defence. Murphy, on an overlap chipped a cross back to Furlong who powered a header downward and with McGuinness stranded Luke Gallagher made a goal saving block on the line.

Drogheda were forced into an early change as Kevin Farragher, dropped to the bench for Lloyd Buckley, was brought on to replace the youngster who took a knock in the box.

It was 26 minutes before the hosts had their first shot on target, Richie Purdy cut in from the left and powered a low shot which Graham Doyle saved but only into the path of Adam Wixted whose follow up was palmed away by the keeper.

A minute into injury time though and the Boynesiders were ahead. A short corner from Griffin to Sean Brennan saw the Drogheda captain beat his man and curl a shot into the top corner as Doyle was rooted to his spot.

The First Division side began the second in a similar vein to the first as Gallagher spied Doyle out of position and let fly from 40-yards forcing a diving save from the scrambling keeper. 

Two minutes later Griffin was released but couldn’t beat the keeper in a one-on-one but Doyle’s save looked to be headed toward McCaffrey only for an inch perfect sliding block from Delaney.

The tie was levelled on the hour mark as again from a Griffin corner Kevin Farragher rose highest to power a header past Doyle from 12-yards out.

Youths however were proving tricky from counter attacks and Gary Delany had an effort blocked on the line as Danny Furlong also had several chances.

With ten minutes to go though a Colm Deasy throw into the box bounced and Marc Griffin attempted to control but was fouled and referee Graham Kelly pointed to the spot. Up stepped Drogheda native Sean Thornton to slot home the spot kick.

There were further twists however as Youths had the ball in the net as McGuinness was tackled in the air and dropped the ball before it was stabbed home. But having awarded a goal referee Kelly was over ruled by his linesman.

With time almost up Shane Dempsey had a chance to send the tie into extra-time, he rounded the keeper but fired into the side netting.

Drogheda United: Stephen McGuinness, Colm Deasy, Luke Gallagher, Lloyd Buckley (Kevin Farragher 20), Stephen Dunne, Jake Hyland, Sean Brennan (Sean Thornton 54), Richie Purdy, Gareth McCaffrey, Luke Griffin, AdamWixted

Wexford Youths: Graham Doyle, Craig McCabe, Gary Delaney, Lee Grace, Danny Furlong, Aiden Keenan, John Bonner, Conor Whittle (Shane Dempsey 86), Paul Murphy, Andrew O'Connor, Chris Kenny (Shane Dunne 86)

Referee: Graham Kelly (Cork)