Andrew Dempsey reports from Stradbrook Road
Top of the table Cabinteely suffered a humbling 5-0 defeat at home to fourth placed Drogheda United on Saturday evening.
A Chris Lyons hat-trick proved decisive as both Stephen Meaney and Luke McNally added the gloss to an utterly dominant performance from the Boynesiders.
After two consecutive 1-0 wins at home to Shelbourne and away to Longford Town, Cabo had risen up to the top of the First Division table, confounding almost every pre-season prediction.
Drogheda entered the Stradbrook venue with a point to prove after their most recent 4-1 defeat against Pat Devlin’s side back in March. Tim Clancy’s side had also never previously secured a win at the South Dublin venue – a run that lasted four games.
United, keen to put the wrongs of their previous trips to Cabinteely to bed, started well and grabbed a well-deserved opener thanks to a well taken close range strike from Lyons.
Sean Brennan’s free kick was sent into the box diagonally, before being met by the head of Luke McNally who nodded the ball onto Lyons and sent Tim Clancy’s side into an early lead.
By their usual standards, it was a poor start by Cabinteely who were perhaps fortuitous not to fall further behind shortly after.
Brennan produced a good flick to find Mark Hughes who curled his effort at Stephen McGuinness before Lyons went mightily close seconds after but the Cabo ‘keeper got down smartly to avert danger.
However, Drogheda were not be denied a second and it came after a brilliant run from the lively Lyons.
The ex-Bray striker fell, perhaps looking for a penalty, before getting up and putting the ball onto a plate for Stephen Meaney who was on hand fire home as the Boynesiders grabbed a deserved second.
The Drogs continued to push forward and could have nabbed a third but McGuinness was perhaps fortunate that the ball which squirmed out of his grasp was eventually collected after Brennan’s low drive.
As the half reached its conclusion, Cabo began to show signs of life but could not find a way through the Drogheda rear-guard after Keith Dalton and Rob Manley combined well before Kieran ‘Marty’ Waters flicked his effort wide of target.
However, hopes of a Cabo fightback were doused within just fifty seconds of the second half opening when Lyons scored his second, and Drogheda’s third of the night.
Conor Kane went on a searching run which found the explosive striker who turned on a sixpence before blasting past McGuinness in the South Dubliner’s goal.
While three goal leads have become slightly vulnerable in the modern game, Cabinteely were to produce no Liverpool-esque comeback as Luke McNally scored at the back post after Brennan’s free kick was parried clear by the Green and White’s shot-stopper into the defender’s path.
Drogheda continued to probe for a fifth as man of the match Chris Lyons sought the match ball after his initial brace in front of a decent crowd at Stradbrook.
Cabinteely had an opportunity to add a consolation goal through Jack Watson, but sub Cian Kavanagh was on hand to save the day, preserving Luca Gratzer’s clean sheet.
However, Lyons was not to be denied a hat-trick after Alex Aspil pulled down James Brown at the back post, securing a spot-kick in which the ex-Bray Wanderers striker slotted home ten minutes from time.
Manley had an opportunity to score late on but Gratzer saved well with his feet as assistant manager Eddie Gormley watched on with frustration on the side-line as Cabo suffered their heaviest defeat of the season.
Drogheda now have the opportunity to build on their dominant win over the league leaders with a home tie against Galway United next week while Cabo face a daunting trip to the Markets Field versus Limerick FC on the same night.
Cabinteely: Stephen McGuinness; Jonny Carlin, Conor Keeley (Jack Hudson, 88), Eoin Massey, Jack Tuite; Alex Aspil (Sean Fitzpatrick 80), Keith Dalton, Zak O'Neill (Luke Clucas 54), Jack Watson; Rob Manley, Kieran 'Marty' Waters.
Subs not used: Ben Clarke, Ollie Hamzat, Jackson Ryan, James Woods.
Booked: Jonny Carlin (9), Jack Tuite (38), Alex Aspil (79).
Drogheda United: Luca Gratzer; James Brown, Conor Kane, Luke McNally; Sean Brennan (Cian Kavanagh 62), Luke Gallagher, Mark Hughes (James Clarke 68), Jake Hyland (Luke Heeney 54); Mark Doyle, Chris Lyons, Stephen Meaney.
Subs not used: Jordan Adeyemo, Kevin Farragher, Daniel Grace, Eoin McPhillips.
Referee: Marc Lynch.
Attendance: 400 (Estimate).
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: Chris Lyons (Drogheda United).