WHEN it comes to county finals, emotions will always run high. However, for Salthill/Knocknacarra midfielder John Boylan, they may just reach new heights when he pulls on the club jersey, possibly for the last time, and takes to the field against Corofin at Tuam Stadium this Sunday.
In all likelihood, barring the county final going to a replay, this will be 30-year-old Boylan’s last competitive outing for the defending county champions as he is due to fly out to begin a new life in Australia later this month.
It has been a big decision for him, to not only leave his family and friends, but to cut his ties with a club he holds dear. A club he has given blood, sweat and tears to and, quite often, in that order. And willingly so.
“Yeah, I am actually retiring in a few weeks – at the end of the month – and moving to Australia,” says the imposing midfielder who is an army officer based in Dublin. “So this could be my last game for Salthill. I am moving over there indefinitely; I could be back in a few years, but I don’t know.”
It’s unimaginable the transition that is about to take place in Boylan’s life but one thing he most likely will not miss are those long trips up and down from Dublin. “There has been a bit of travelling involved, up and down from Dublin alright,” he said.
“It has been a huge commitment, but football is like a drug. You want to stop doing it but find that you can’t. I suppose, now, I am heading to Australia in search of a new way of life. I have 12 years done in the army and I had a choice to stay or go. So, I chose to leave, to retire, and I am looking forward to it. I can’t wait.”
As one of the longest serving members of the squad, Boylan has enjoyed both the highs and lows. No doubt, the year surrounding their county final win in 2005 – only the City club’s second ever senior title – and their subsequent Connacht and All-Ireland club successes hold fond memories for him. As does last year’s county final victory.
However, he also bemoans Salthill/Knocknacarra’s lack of consistency in the years between their last two county title wins, 2005 and 2012, in which time Sunday’s opponents Corofin have won the Frank Fox Cup on four occasions to bring their count on the roll of honour to 14 – just one title behind third placed Dunmore MacHales.
“In terms of consistency, we have not done it at senior level. We won the county title in ‘05 and we didn’t win it again for another seven years. Obviously, making back-to-back finals, we are progressing,” said Boylan.
However, in equal measure, he also recognised the pedigree of Corofin. “You talk about Corofin being one of the aristocrats and as much as it pains me to say it, they are. They are consistent. This year just highlights it. When they lost the semi-final last year, people were talking about them coming back and, before a ball was thrown in, winning it this year. That says a lot about them.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
Galway United’s chance to close gap on table-toppers Shels
Friday the 13th – unlucky for some – and Galway United will be hoping it is an unlucky night for runaway leaders Shelbourne on Friday evening. Shels, who are currently 10 points clear of second place United, are still unbeaten in this year’s First Division with 12 wins and six draws to their name.
The Tribesmen go into this week’s pivotal fixture after a disappointing 3-2 defeat against Cork City last Friday at Eamonn Deacy Park. The game had a ‘hit-and-run’ feel to it as Colin Healy’s side snatched all three points with ten minutes to go which ended United’s seven-game unbeaten league run.
BY TOM BYRNE
Even so, United replaced Treaty United in second place on goal difference after the Limerick outfit were defeated 4-1 by Cabinteely at the Markets Field.
Shelbourne have been the team to beat this season as they look odds-on to win this season’s First Division with nine games to go. Ian Morris’ side were hampered by a number of Covid cases in their squad for last week’s game against UCD, where they drew 0-0 at the UCD Bowl. It is expected that they will have players returning for their crucial clash against United at Terryland.
The two clubs have faced each other on 75 occasions. Shelbourne being victorious the more often with 39 wins, United defeating the north-Dubliners 17 times and 19 games ending in stalemate. United have hit the Shels net 86 times while the 2019 First Division winners have scored on 132 occasions against United.
The two teams played out a 0-0 draw at Eamonn Deacy Park in the first game this season, while Shelbourne had the upper hand in the reverse fixture when they overcame United 4-0 at Tolka Park in May.
Goal friendly Shels have struck 36 goals in 18 games so far this campaign, with former Shamrock Rovers man Ryan Brennan bagging ten of those. United will look to Wilson Waweru and Ruairi Keating for their main source of goals, with the latter hitting the net on seven occasions this season. Waweru brought his goal tally to six last week when he scored United’s first equalising goal against Cork City.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the soccer preview, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Lomboto’s late strike earns United share of the spoils
Galway United 2
Athlone Town 2
GALWAY United had to twice come from behind against basement side Athlone Town on Monday night to snatch a draw that was, on balance, probably a little harsh on the visiting side.
Completely outplayed in the opening 45 minutes, United had an absolute howler from visiting goalkeeper, Aaron Myles, to thank for going into the break on level terms; and then needed an equaliser five minutes from time to claim a draw against a side that came into the game having lost all four games they had played this season.
Alan Murphy’s side already find themselves nine points behind the league leaders just four games into the season, and a major improvement is needed if they are to finish in the top half of the table and inside the play-off spots.
Their central midfield was way off the mark on Monday night – both Maurice Nugent and Sam Warde were hauled ashore before the final whistle – and having abandoned the 4-4-2 formation which delivered some decent results near the end of last season, they are struggling to get quality ball into the opposition box.
With Shane Duggan expected to return to central midfield after suspension for this Saturday’s trip to Cobh Ramblers, it might be time to go with some out-and-out wingers and get some cohesion in the side.
The first couple of half chances on Monday fell to the home side, but Mikey Place didn’t get any power behind his second minute effort; while Marc Ludden was well off target subsequently.
The visitors, who had the opening half’s best player in their ranks in the guise of Galway native, Ronan Manning, went close a couple of times themselves in the ninth minute, United surviving thanks to Cian Murphy getting a block on Adam Lennon’s shot; while Kevin Horgan pulled off a ‘worldie’ to deny Joel Coustrain from the subsequent corner.
By that stage, the visitors were starting to get on top, and they took a deserved lead in the 22nd minute when Manning’s corner from the left was met by Taner Dogan at the back post to head home as the United marking was, not for the first time this season, shambolic at a set-piece.
Tempers were starting to fray a little, with both sides having two players finding their way into the notebook of Dublin referee, Oliver Moran, before United were gifted an equaliser in the 41st minute.
Full report in this week’s Connacht Tribune
Doyle bags hat-trick in Galway WFC romp
GALWAY WFC notched a second win in a row in the Women’s National League when they defeated Limerick 6-1 at the Markets Field on Sunday afternoon.
A McKenna Doyle hat trick and goals from Sadbh Doyle, Chloe Singleton and Aoife Thompson helped the Galway women to a resounding win. Five of the six goals for Galway were assisted by Lynsey McKey during what was a stellar performance by the experienced midfielder.
Galway WFC are back in action at Eamonn Deacy Park tomorrow (Saturday, kick off 3pm) when they welcome league leaders Peamount United.
See full match report in City Tribune Sport.