Drogheda United will have home advantage in the semi-finals of the Setanta Sports Cup. Going into the final match of Group 1, the reigning champions Drogheda had to score more than their Eircom rivals Cork City to be assured of first position – and with it the luxury of a home draw at the next stage. Goals from Eamon Zayed and Adam Hughes secured a 2-0 victory over Cliftonville, while Cork City had to settle for runners-up despite beating Dungannon Swifts 4-1. Amidst the turmoil and off-the-field problems surrounding Cork City, progression into the semi-finals has signalled a secure and bright future as news of a takeover ended the uncertainty. The Republic of Ireland’s superiority in the competition has been evident again as both representatives have progressed in Group 1. The challenge posed from Northern Ireland’s Cliftonville and Dungannon Swifts has been lacking throughout, but there are elevated hopes from their representatives in Group 2.
In the corresponding group, Derry City reached the last four by overpowering St Patrick’s Athletic 1-0. Kevin McHugh scored the vital winner to secure their advancement, but it left St Patrick’s Athletic with only a slim chance of achieving the same and will have to win their last match to retain any hope. There is still one match to be played in Group 2, with three clubs competing for the last semi-final place available. Northern Irish champions Linfield remain the favourites to claim it and they will hope to win the tournament for the second time having been victorious in 2005. Glentoran and St Patrick’s also remain hopeful though.
The Setanta Sports Cup was created in 2005, following on from a number of cross-border competitions which have been run over the years. The victors will receive a significant financial boost with the prize money standing at €350,000.