Relegation disaster for Galway Utd despite courageous last stand

Galway United's Kevin Devaney gets to the ball ahead of Dundalk's Jamie McGrath during Friday's Premier Division tie at Eamonn Deacy Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy
Galway United's Kevin Devaney gets to the ball ahead of Dundalk's Jamie McGrath during Friday's Premier Division tie at Eamonn Deacy Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Galway United  3

Dundalk  4

THE guts of 3,500 minutes of football was summed up in an hour and a half on Friday night as Galway United bid adieu to the Premier Division after a three-year stint.

The home side became just the third team this season to put three goals past Dundalk in the league, and any time you score three goals at home, it should be enough to win the game. But this is Galway United we are talking about, and unlike Derry City (3-1) and Cork City (3-0), Shane Keegan’s side still finished the game empty handed as defensive frailties ensured a night that began with hope ended in despair.

Even if they had won, it would not have been enough to save United from the drop as both St Patrick’s Athletic and Sligo Rovers picked up the point they both needed to escape the drop to the wastelands of the domestic league.

It is a cliché to say the table doesn’t lie, but on this occasion, it can be accused of bending the truth a little as relegation is a little harsh on a United side that finished the campaign with fewer defeats than a Shamrock Rovers side that finished third in the table and qualified for Europe (12 for United, 13 for Rovers).

United scored more (45) than Sligo Rovers (33) and Limerick FC (41), and the same as St Patrick’s Athletic (45); and conceded less than St Pat’s (52), Limerick (51) and Bray Wanderers. And yet they will now find themselves digging out directions for Stradbrook Road, the home of Cabinteely, next season.

United needed a couple of factors to go their way on Friday night, but first they had to look after their own part of the bargain by winning at home to Dundalk. They got off to an ideal start, taking the lead in the 9th minute; but rather than smother the game, they let concentration drop and any momentum they had was killed just two minutes later when the visitors equalised.

The Tribesmen were on top in the early stages, and Stephen Folan had a goalbound header cleared by Dundalk captain, Stephen O’Donnell, in the 5th minute; while Gary Rogers had to go full stretch to push an Eoin McCormack shot around the post for a corner four minutes later.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.