Murray’s late penalty earns United share of the spoils

Galway United's Conor Melody takes the ball forward against Patrick Cregg of St Patrick's Athletic during Friday night's Premier Division tie at Eamonn Deacy Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Galway United 1

St Patrick’s Athletic 1

MAYBE, just maybe, this game will prove a turning point in Galway United’s season as they grabbed a last-minute equaliser on Friday night to stay in touch with the teams above them at the wrong end of the table.

Ronan Murray grabbed his fourth league goal of the season when converting from the penalty spot in the 89th minute – United’s first penalty in a staggering 72 games – to take a share of the spoils against a side that went into the weekend just one place, but four points, ahead of them in the table.

A defeat would have been disastrous for United, as it would have allowed  St Pats pull further away from the three-team relegation trap-door. Instead, at the end of the weekend’s action, they made up a point on Sligo Rovers, Drogheda United, and Bohemians, and while still a worrying five points off safety, it is the psychological boost that Friday’s result should produce that could be key.

They huffed and puffed for large parts of the game, but the introduction of Gavan Holohan in the 64th minute, and Kevin Devaney ten minutes later, gave United a real lift, a more attacking edge, and the return of those players form injury could help turn the season around.

Given that United and Pat’s occupied the bottom two places in the table going into the game, it was little surprise that they created few chances in a first-half in which the visitors edged in terms of possession, but Liam Buckley’s side managed to get their noses in front just before the break.

The visitors had a goal disallowed in the 16th minute when Rory Feely was left unmarked to meet a Conan Byrne corner from the left with a powerful header. The ball ended in the net, but the assistant referee had spotted that Kurtis Byrne was standing in an offside position on the goal-line, and raised his flag.

United didn’t learn from that lesson, however, and allowed St Pats to take the lead from an exact replica of that corner-kick in the 40th minute, Feely again being left unmarked to send a bullet-like header past Winn for the opening goal.

“We are where we are because we keep conceding avoidable goals, and that was the ultimate in an avoidable goal, absolutely unforgiveable. If you watch Soccer Republic any Monday night, every team seems to have to work for the goals they score, except against us, they don’t have to work for the goal, we do something stupid.

“They are an absolutely fantastic dressing rooms of players, the talent we have is as good as anything in the league, outside Dundalk and Cork, but we are killing ourselves and making life so hard for ourselves,” Keegan said after the game.

The manager was at his angriest this season after the game, and with reason as well: United really only started to play for the last 20 minutes or so, and as Keegan said post match, if they continue to do for the next few games, then it will be too late to climb away from the relegation zone.