After the glitz of Thursday night’s trip to Tottenham Hotspur Rovers returned to league action with a dominant performance in a 4-0 win over Drogheda United in Tallaght Stadium.
Rovers could afford to rest several key players after their Europa League exertions but with the likes of Chris Turner, Karl Sheppard and Rohan Ricketts coming in to the side they were always going to have too much for a Drogheda side kept off the bottom by only an atrocious Galway United outfit.
With a hard working Sheppard making the most of a rare start and Rohan Ricketts showing glimpses of the class which earned his place at Arsenal and then Spurs, the league champions were wasteful and lead by only two goals going into half time.
It was Sheppard who broke the deadlock after 23 minutes, nodding in Ricketts corner after spurning two good chances as Rovers pressurised for most of the opening exchanges.
Sheppard then turned provider when he was quick to take advantage of an Alan McNally mistake leaving Ciaran Kilduff one on one with the overworked Stephen Trimble who was left too exposed to do anything about Kilduff rounding him and slotting the ball home with three minutes remaining in the first half.
The Hoops continued the assault in the second half and Turner should have converted one of his free headers early on after good crosses from Pat Sullivan and Sheppard.
The result was all but a formality by the 70th though when Stephen Gannon brought down Kilduff inside the area and Billy Dennehy smashed the resultant penalty past Trimble.
O’Neill introduced Gary O’Neill and Ronan Finn in place of Karl Sheppard and Conor McCormack with Wednesday’s visit from Bohemians in mind.
The Drogheda players too seemed to have moved on from the game as O’Neill was left unmarked inside the box on the 81st minute and had plenty of time to control Dennehy’s cutback before placing the ball into the net.