Four second half goals at Tallaght Stadium eased Shamrock Rovers past Drogheda United and into the quarter-final of the FAI Cup.

There would be no repeat of last year's shock between the sides as substitute Gary O’Neill, Aaron Greene, Aaron McEneff and Sean Kavanagh wrapped up a facile victory.  

Former Rovers player Tim Clancy had vowed that his Drogs side wouldn't just sit deep and it showed with their early intent. Alan Mannus got away with fumbling Sean Brennan's stinging volley on four minutes before Ethan Boyle survived a scarier moment.

The defender’s dithering on the edge of his box allowed Conor Kane nip in and get a sight on goal. 

When the ball eventually fell to Chris Lyons, the hero of last year’s win went down under Boyle’s challenge but without sufficient contact for Paul McLaughlin to award a penalty.

Burke, restored to the Hoops starting line-up, partnered Greene, who forced Luca Gratzer to turn his 10th minute shot around the post.

The Ireland international soon provided an attacking threat himself, arcing a first-time shot from his cultured left foot just past the far post.

That was just a prelude to an even better effort from further out on 18 minutes. Gratzer was left static on his line by a thunderous Burke 25-yard volley which smacked off the angle of the post and crossbar.

The Preston North End loanee was off-target with another strike before Lee Grace saw a close-range shot deflected out for one of the eight corners had in the opening 45 minutes.

Drogs were struggling to penetrate, reliant on threaded passes to unhinge the three-man central-defensive unit. 

Had James Brown not overhit his to an unmarked Lyons on the stroke of the break, another upset might have materialised.

Instead, the Premier Division side started converted the chances they had squandered in the first half.

Clancy’s crew must have felt they’d dealt with another Jack Byrne corner when initially clearing the danger on 56 minutes but the stray ball landed straight back at the playmaker’s feet.

His second delivery was telegraphed perfectly for O’Neill to arrive on cue to glance his header into the far corner.

Burke’s potent left foot helped produce the second four minutes later. His wicked free-kick from 30 yards was spilled by Gratzer, allowing Greene to fire in the rebound.

Only a last-ditch block by Mark Doyle prevented Byrne grabbing the third but with 17 minutes left McEneff succeeded from a similar angle, cutting in from the left to drill a low shot inside the near post.

Clearly stretched in the closing stages, Drogs conceded again 10 minutes later, with Kavanagh sweeping Greene’s right-wing cross home from six yards.

Shamrock Rovers: Allan Mannus; Ethan Boyle (Gary O’Neill 46), Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace; Ronan Finn, Greg Bolger (Dylan Watts 67), Aaron McEneff, Jack Byrne (Brandon Kavanagh 74), Sean Kavanagh; Aaron Greene, Graham Burke.

Drogheda United: Luca Gratzer; James Brown, Kevin Farragher, Luke McNally, Conor Kane; Stephen Meaney (Adam Wixted 67), Jamie Hollywood (Ryan O’Shea 74), Jake Hyland, Mark Doyle; Sean Brennan (Luke Heeney 61); Chris Lyons.

Referee: Paul McLaughlin (Donegal).