Smith’s late winner throws Mervue United title lifeline

Athenry's Colm O'Donovan comes away with the ball despite the attentions of Mervue's Kevin Fitzpatrick and Kevin McHugh during the clubs' Premier League clash at Fahy's Field on Sunday morning. EIREFOTO
Athenry's Colm O'Donovan comes away with the ball despite the attentions of Mervue's Kevin Fitzpatrick and Kevin McHugh during the clubs' Premier League clash at Fahy's Field on Sunday morning. EIREFOTO

Mervue United   1

Athenry 0

Mike Rafferty

A week previously, Mervue United stumbled over the line when defeating Renmore in the Connacht Junior Cup, but on Sunday last, with their title challenge on the line, they came up with the goods as they secured the win that improves their aspirations.

David Smith grabbed the crucial matchwinner as the home side inflicted a first defeat of the season on the Premier Division leaders and, in the process, closed the gap on the table toppers to four points, while still enjoying a game in hand.

Anything else but a home success would have led the visitors on a stroll to the title, but it was an occasion when Athenry started well, challenged home custodian Brian O’Donoghue on a number of occasions, before they just fell off the pace and seldom directly threatened the custodian in the last half hour.

It was a contest where space was at a premium. With so much at stake for both sides, challenges were flying in everywhere and nobody got space or time on the ball.

It was Seamie Crowe charges who should have taken advantage of a good opening quarter, but a flying O’Donoghue save kept out a Cathal Fahy effort, while Colm O’Donovan also failed to hit the target from close range. The home side threatened through James Casserly and Simon Walsh, but as the game intensified chances became scarce at both ends.

However, gaps soon began to appear in the Athenry rearguard. They were really exposed at set pieces, as Mike Elwood twice should have put the home side ahead with free headers from close range. However, he inexplicably failed to hit the target on both occasions. The visitors were getting plenty of warnings, as Barry Moran fed Dave Smith but an offside flag that was questioned by many, ruled out a lead goal.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.