Shamrock Rovers took another step towards securing European football next season after two second-half goals secured a comfortable away victory over relegated Drogheda United.
First blood almost went to the home side on seven minutes when Shane Elworthy got in behind Rovers’ young left-back Dean Carpenter and crossed towards Stephen Elliott who hooked a fine effort just over Tomer Chencinski’s crossbar.
The Hoops seemed to be lacking a spark in the early stages and they were limited to wayward long-range shots from Brandon Miele, Lee Grace and David Webster.
However, they did threaten on one occasion when James Doona cut in from the right wing and sent a well-struck diagonal effort whistling narrowly wide of the Drogheda goal.
The Boynesiders did enjoy a good spell of possession mid-way through the half without ever troubling Chencinski, and it was the home side’s netminder McGuinness who was finally called into action on 37 minutes, diving to his right to keep out another Doona attempt from just inside the box.
However, Rovers were lucky not to fall behind coming up to half-time from the home side’s first corner kick as Sean Brennan’s fine delivery was nodded narrowly wide by Elliott.
The visitors finally hit the front seven minutes into the second half when Miele beat the offside trap to run onto a Ronan Finn pass and his captain continued his run to take the return from Miele and slot home from close range.
It was pretty much one-way traffic after that as Rovers took control of the game and McGuinness finger-tipped a Gary Shaw effort round the post before doubling their advantage on 70 minutes, Miele slotting home easily from close range after a deft one-two with Finn inside the box.
Sean Boyd was next to be denied by McGuinness as the Hoops looked to put some gloss on the scoreline, but the substitute will wonder how he didn’t find the net on 85 minutes when he slotted wide after latching onto Michael O’Connor’s back-heel.
DROGHEDA UNITED: Stephen McGuinness; Colm Deasy, Luke Gallagher, Lloyd Buckley, Conor Kane; Shane Elworthy, Ryan McEvoy (Jack Bayly 67), Richie Purdy, Mark Doyle (Adam Wixted 82); Sean Brennan, Stephen Elliott (Stephen Meaney 65). Subs not used: Kevin Farragher, Sean Russell, Jamie Hollywood, Dylan Sweeney.
SHAMROCK ROVERS: Tomer Chencinski; Simon Madden, Lee Grace, David Webster, Dean Carpenter; David McAllister (Cameron King 46); James Doona, Ronan Finn (Michael O’Connor 72), Ryan Connolly, Brandon Miele; Gary Shaw (Sean Boyd 72). Subs not used: Darren Clarke, Sam Bone, Luke Byrne, Kevin Horgan.
Referee: Damien MacGraith (Mayo)