By Barry Landy
Drogheda United claimed the big scalp of the first round of the FAI Cup as they dumped Shamrock Rovers out of the competition at United Park.
Chris Lyons' first-half penalty proved the difference, sending the First Division promotion chasers through.
They were helped by Lee Grace’s red card which left Rovers with a man less for 65 minutes but in truth, Drogheda were full value for a memorable win.
They did so without their top goalscorer this season Sean Brennan who missed out through suspension but Tim Clancy’s team didn’t miss him.
Lyons in particular was a standout performer, while 17-year-old French midfielder William Hondermarck showed his qualities in the biggest game of his fledgling career to date.
Stephen Bradley said before the that his squad would not be affected by the Hoops’ 31-year-wait for FAI Cup success and that discussion will be shelved for another year now.
Bradley was part of the Drogheda team that lifted the FAI Cup with Drogheda in 2005 but the end result on the Boyne left him in little mood for reminiscing about successful days of yore.
The big travelling contingent from the capital came in expectation of a win to launch a cup run, given how far behind they are the top two in league competition.
Despite starting well, Grace’s 23rd-minute dismissal changed the game.
Hondermarck played a neat one-two with Lyons and burst into the box only for Grace to drag the teenager down.
Referee Paul McLoughlin was quick to brandish red and after a lengthy wait as Grace disputed the decision, Lyons sent Alan Mannus the wrong way and Drogheda into the lead.
Dylan Watts could have levelled soon after but Drogheda stopper Paul Skinner denied him.
Sam Bone and Aaron Greene both went close as Rovers made a quick start to the second half.
But, the advantage told and Drogheda were finding more and more space to exploit. Conor Kane and Lyons forced Mannus into good saves while sub Kealon Dillon twice went close.
Hondermarck, making just his second ever senior start, went close to a deserved goal too. He failed to connect properly when played in at the end of another swift counter attack.
Mannus was pressed into service at the other end in injury time as the Hoops forced a series of late corners but it came to nothing.
Drogheda United: Paul Skinner, Kevin Farragher, Luke Gallaher, Ciaran Kelly, Colm Deasy, Richie Purdy (Kealon Dillon 66), Jake Hyland, William Hondermarck; Mark Doyle (Robert Manley 72), Chris Lyons (Lee Duffy, 90+4).
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus, Joey O’Brien, Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace, Sean Kavanagh, Sam Bone (Brandon Miele 68), Ronan Finn, Dylan Watts, Brandon Kavanagh (Aaron Greene 46), Joel Coustrain (Sinclair Armstrong 80), Gary Shaw.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin (Donegal)
Elsewhere, Bohemians had a facile 7-0 win away to Wexford Youths.
Jonathan Lunney, Daniel Corcoran (2), Daniel Kelly, Keith Ward, Eoghan Stokes and Cristian Magerusan were all on the scoresheet.
Bray went down 3-1 at home to Finn Harps after extra-time.
The Wicklow side led through Gerald Pender but Sam Todd’s goal brough the tie into overtime.
Michael Place and Jacob Borg scored to put the Ulster side into the second round.
Shelbourne were 4-0 winners over Athlone Town with a Nika Kalandarishvili own goal setting the Dublin side on their way before Patrick Kavanagh, Greg Moorhouse and Lorcan Fitzgerald scored second-half goals.
Strikes from Timmy Molloy and Conor Davis gave UCD victory over Pike Rovers.