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Monday, 4th March 2024

Drogheda Water Polo make strides for Top Four finish

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The Drogheda Water Polo squad who beat Sandycove yesterday. Back Row:- Carlos Lopez, David Murnaghan, Simon Heffernan, Aidan Mullaney, Adam Child, James Winters, Alex Crosbie, Isa Aljunied, Hudson Grieve, James Healy. Front Row: Alex Healy, Finn Hanley, Teige Kelly, Alex Tapu.

Drogheda 8 : 5 Sandycove

Drogheda gave their chances of a top 4 finish in the top flight and a seeding at next season’s blue riband Irish Senior Cup a huge boost on Sunday in the NAC with a hard fought victory against a very good Sandycove side.

Looking to avenge a defeat to the same opposition in the earlier round of fixtures Drogheda were handed a gilt edged opportunity to gain a foothold with their very first attack when Cypriot,  Antonis Prodmomou conceded a penalty after just 18 seconds of play.

However Drogheda spurned the opportunity as the southsiders’ netminder Eoin Doyle, celebrating his birthday proved equal to Aidan Mullaney’s attempt. This set the narrative for the first half of the match for Drogheda as a combination of errant shooting, the woodwork and Doyle’s goalkeeping frustrated the Boyesiders. 

Sandycove took the lead after 2 minutes when veteran Alan Fogarty made no mistake from an extra man situation following the sin binning of Alex Tapu. Try as they might Drogheda could not make a dent on the scoreboard as their wayward shooting and fine goalkeeping denied them several times before Fogarty doubled his team’s advantage at the halfway point in the quarter.

As the clock ticked down towards the end of the first quarter however, Drogheda were handed a gilt edged opportunity to reduce the deficit following a sin bin exclusion of Prodmomou, his second major of the match which left him walking on this ice as his third would see hm excluded for the remainder of the contest, but in keeping with their early profligacy they made a mess of their set play, leaving them scoreless for the period. 

Early in the second it was Alex Tapu’s turn to feel the thin ice as he was excluded for his second offence, but emulating their opponents, Sandycove also misfired on the extra man play, and minuteslater they were given another opportunity when Isa Aljunied fell foul of the referees, only for the Dubliners to offer Drogheda a second reprieve as they fluffed heir lines once again.

Defences were very much on top in the second period and a masterful display form young Alex Crosbie at centre back for Drogheda helped hugely in keeping Sandycove’s attack triumvirate of Max Connolly and the Kirby brothers at bay for the whole second quarter.

At the other end James Winters was displaying his most mature performance of his career at centre forward, holding up play, winning frees and gaining exclusions. One of these involving Josh Reilly allowed Drogheda another bash at a man up play but much to Coach James Healy’s frustrations once again they failed to capitalise on the opportunity. Finally, with just 17 seconds remaining in the first half Drogheda manged to get themselves on the scoresheet when Aidan Mullaney made no mistake with his second penalty attempt of the match following a Max Connolly foul. 

The deficit was turned to parity almost immediately in the third quarter when Aljunied lost his marker to blast past the hapless Doyle in the Sandycove goal,  a feat he matched from the penalty spot barely a minute later after Josh Reilly’s second major of the day to push the Drogheda noses in front. Parity was restored when Fergal Kirby notched his first of the match.

Kirby struck once again with 2 minutes of the third quarter left top play to restore the slender advantage for the Dublin side who once again manged to spurn an opportunity to double their advantage following the almost obligatory exclusion of Drogheda captain Simon Heffernan, Drogheda’s Adam Child in goal pulling off a fantastic stop to save the Mayo man’s blushes. 

All to play for in the final quarter it was so, and once again Drogheda blasted out of the blocks to restore parity through the in form Aljunied. Shortly afterwards neat centre forward play from Hudson Grieve pushed Drogheda in font and when Aljunied doubled their advantage it looked like they had finally broken Sandycove’s resolve. The experienced Alan Fogarty had other ideas though and when he completed his hat trick to reduce the deficit to the minimum it looked like it might stoke the fire in the Dublin bellies, only for Grieve with his second of the match once again put 2 between the sides.

Sandycove were handed a late lifeline when Drogheda’s Man of the Match Alex Crosbie was adjudged to have fouled Ronan Kirby to give away a penalty, but Max Connolly could only blast his effort wide of the post. Insult for Connolly was added to injury when he was excluded for the remainder of the match following a heavy tackle and at long last Drogheda managed to make the most of an extra man play to seal the win with a fine strike from Teige Kelly who is having the season of his life, sealing a deserved 3 goal victory. 

The win pushes Drogheda up to third place in the table with 21 points from their 10 matches, 6points off leaders St Vincents & 3 points behind North Dublin who have played one match fewer. Below Drogheda on 18 points after 11 matches are Cathal Brugha followed by Corrib & Sandycove both on 12 after 10 matches and taking up the last two spots are Clontarf and Clonard.

 

 

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