By Barry Landy
Waterford United advanced to the last eight of the FAI Cup for the first time since 2009 with Bastien Hery’s fourth-minute goal ending Drogheda United’s interest in the competition for another year.
The Frenchman netted his fifth goal of an impressive campaign as the Blues picked up their third straight win in league and cup. First Division side Drogheda had chances to level but their attentions will now turn to sealing a return to the top flight.
Following an impressive display in the first-round win over Shamrock Rovers, teenager William Hondermarck was given another chance to impress and Sean Brennan also returned. The influential midfielder missed the first round win but slotted straight back into the side.
Drogheda lifted the FAI Cup in 2005 and one of their stalwarts from that team, 34-year-old Paul Keegan, was handed a start against his former employers. He lined up alongside another ex-Drog Gavan Holohan, with Sander Puri dropping out.
If Tim Clancy’s side were to further their hopes of replicating a famous cup win in 2018, they knew containing strikers Noel Hunt and Ismahil Akinade would be key. Courtney Duffus, who has hit 10 league goals in an impressive debut campaign, failed to recover from injury in time to be involved. He travelled with the squad but was left to watch on from the stands.
Hery was given time and space to line up a shot with just minutes on the clock and he made the most of the opportunity. His 30-yard strike flew past helpless stopper Paul Skinner.
The goalkeeper had to be alert to deny both Waterford strikers soon afterwards but Drogheda weren’t overawed by the challenge. They were tenacious and hard working. Chris Lyons twice had chances while Richie Purdy’s shot was just wide of the post.
Akinade had a glorious chance to net his first ever FAI Cup goal in the second period but after being put through by Rory Feely, the striker’s shot was touched wide by Skinner.
Drogheda’s best chance of a leveller came to teenager Mark Doyle. Deployed at wing back from the start and moved further forward later on, he dragged wide when well placed as the hosts hit Waterford on the break.
Clancy was dismissed by referee Rob Harvey late on but his opposite number Alan Reynolds' hopes of bringing silverware, as well as European football, back to the RSC live on.
Drogheda United: Paul Skinner, Kevin Farragher, Luke Gallagher, Ciaran Kelly, Mark Doyle, Sean Brennan (Robert Manley, 75), Jake Hyland, Richie Purdy, Conor Kane, William Hondermarck (Colm Deasy, 46), Chris Lyons.
Waterford FC: Niall Corbet, Rory Feely, David Webster, Kenny Browne, Garry Comerford, Bastien Hery, Paul Keegan, Dessie Hutchinson, Gavan Holohan (Dylan Barnett, 86), Ismahil Akinade, Noel Hunt (Dean O’Halloran, 85).
Referee: Robert Harvey (Dublin)