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Galway FC edge closer to promotion

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Galway FC are just 90 minutes away from promotion to the Premier Division after a stunning last-gasp 2-1 win over UCD in the Belfield Bowl on Monday night.

Trailing to a Timmy Murphy goal with a minute remaining, Tommy Dunne’s side scored twice in the space of 60 seconds to take a firm grip on the play-off, and justify their tag as favourites for promotion.

While the visitors were installed as clear favourites, there is a big step-up in class from the First Division to the Premier, no matter how poorly the top-flight side has fared over the season, and that was clear in the first-half of Monday’s game.

While Galway FC bossed the majority of the game against Shelbourne in Tolka Park on Friday night, they had to play second fiddle for most of the opening 45 minutes in Belfield. The Tribesmen side were on the backfoot from the start, and while they came more into the game as the half wore on, it was UCD who looked more threatening in front of goal.

The visitors struggled to get out of their own final third of the pitch for the first 10 minutes, but Conor Gleeson was never tested and it was Galway FC who carved out the first chance, Ryan Connolly delivering a free-kick to the back post which was met by Gary Shanahan, but his diving header was well off target.

The winger did go closer two minutes later when a fine move down the Galway left flank resulted in Ryan Manning rolling a ball in behind the defence for Jake Keegan, who drilled a ball to the near post, but Ian Ryan got in ahead of Shanahan to concede a corner.

The home side opened the scoring in the 18th minute with what was their first shot on target, and it came from a defensive error by Galway FC. Conor O’Donnell punted a goalkick towards the left flank, and Mark Langtry just beat Colm Horgan to the ball.

Paddy Barrett was covering and appeared to have matters under control, but a slip allowed Gary Burke to nip in and win possession. He played the ball back to the angle of the box for Timmy Molloy, and the Galway native sent a daisy-cutter past Gleeson and inside the far post.

O’Donnell was quick off his line to deny Shanahan three minutes later, but UCD continued to pose the bigger threat, and it took a flying save from Gleeson to prevent them from doubling their lead after Conor Cannon turned on a sixpence and let fly from 15 yards.

Paul Sinnott and Keegan both had efforts from distance, but neither packed any power and O’Donnell gathered comfortably, with a flurry of bookings late in the half the only real incidents of note as the half-time whistle approached.

Whatever assistant manager Leo Tierney said in the visitors dressing room had the desired effect, as Galway FC were a transformed side in the second half and, if UCD had bossed the opening 45 minutes, then the second period certainly belonged to the visitors.

They completely outplayed their hosts, with Manning twice going close in the first five minutes, with the home side relying on trying to catch Galway FC on the break as they struggled to get out of their own half.

Galway FC had won in the FAI Cup here earlier in the season, but while they dominated the second half, they were struggling to turn possession into real chances, although as the half wore on, the UCD goal came more and more under threat.

Manning was denied by O’Donnell in the 76th minute, and when the resulting corner was whipped in, the ‘keeper managed to claw Gary Shanahan’s header onto the crossbar.

Barrett spilt the UCD defence with a perfectly-weighted ball for Jake Keegan in the 83rd minute, but when the American striker skied his effort with only O’Donnell to beat, it looked like the visitors would have nothing to show for their efforts.

But then came that frantic, stunning final few minutes. They pulled level in the 89th minute when Marc Ludden launched a trademark long throw into the UCD penalty area. Barrett beat O’Donnell in the air to head goalwards, and while Ian Ryan hooked the ball clear on the line, the assistant referee flagged to indicate the ball had crossed the line.

The Galway FC fans were still celebrating when their side took the lead just 60 seconds later. Connolly fizzed in a corner from the left which UCD failed to clear, and Manning claimed possession with his right foot before firing home in a crowded penalty area with his left to snatch the winner.

UCD were on the ropes, and Galway FC could have added a third two minutes into injury time but O’Donnell saved smartly from Shanahan. However it is the First Division side who are now firm favourites to cap a brilliant debut season by claiming promotion when they host the Student sin the second leg in Eamonn Deacy Park on Friday night (7.45pm).

 

 

 

 

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway Utd to use last three league games to get players match-fit for play-offs

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Killian Brouder in action against Athlone Town back in May - if fit, he will feature against the Midlands outfit in Eamonn Deacy Park tonight. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Galway United manager John Caulfield is taking a ‘softly-softly’ approach to United’s final three games of the regular season as he lets one eye glance towards the end-of-season play-offs and an escape route after five seasons of hell in the First Division.

Last week’s draw with Treaty United has not mathematically ended United’s hopes of catching Cork City for the title, but with the Leesiders six points ahead with three games remaining – and a far superior goal difference – it is only a matter f time before they are officially crowned champions.

In truth, United’s title hopes ended with back-to-back defeats to Waterford and Bray Wanderers in August – and to be fair to him, the United manager admitted as much at the time – so he has been using the game since to prepare for the play-offs, preparation that will continue this evening with the visit of Athlone Town to Eamonn Deacy Park (7.45pm).

Town are the only side United have beaten in every meeting this season, with a 3-0 win on the Dyke Road back in May sandwiched between 2-1 and 3-1 wins in Lissywoolen in March and July respectively.

As has been his habit before every game this season, Caulfield insists that his side are in for a tough game this evening. Athlone are second from bottom of the table, with just five wins all season, and a whopping 40 points behind United, so while they might provide stiff opposition, there really is no excuse for not winning comfortably tonight, even if United use the game as a stepping stone for the play-offs.

“We have a number of weeks to get more a few fellas more game time and get ready for the play-offs,” he said after last Friday’s draw in Limerick.

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

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

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Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway United get out of jail thanks to dubious spot kick

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David Tarmey with his parents, Seamus and Sabina, and Brian O’Riordan, the chairman of Cregmore/Claregalway, his former club, after he signed his first professional contract with Galway United.

Treaty United 1

Galway United 1

 THE thinking heading into this game in Limerick last Friday night was that Galway United would use the opportunity to make a statement of intent with regards to the upcoming promotion play-offs, especially given the likelihood of facing their hosts again in knockout football at the end of this month.

Instead, all we got was an incoherent mumble from a visiting side that seems to be lurching from one game to the next, one that needed a ridiculous penalty decision to go in their favour late in the game to rescue a point against their hosts.

Failure to win last Friday means it is just two wins in the last their last eight league games, which is hardly the form needed to come through the gruelling, protracted play-off series and climb out of the purgatory of the First Division.

They finished fifth in 2020, scraping into the play-offs on goal difference ahead of Cobh Ramblers, but after beating Bray Wanderers in the semi-final, they then lost to Longford Town in the final.

Last year saw a second-place finish in the table but an immediate failure in the play-offs with defeat to Bray Wanderers in the semi-finals; and unfortunately, they look to be going backwards this season as with Waterford winning both at the weekend and in a rearranged game on Monday night, United have now slipped to third in the table.

They do still have three games to play as opposed to two for Waterford, but given recent displays, it is difficult to have too much confidence in overhauling the Blues in the table.

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

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Friend in bullish mood ahead of big battle with Munster

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Connacht's Director of Rugby Andy Friend who is expecting a big display against Munster at the Sportsground on Friday night.

TWO teams which have made wretched starts to the season will hope to kick-start their campaigns this Friday as Connacht host Munster when they meet in the Sportsground (7.35pm).

The visitors have at least got a win under their belt, flattering to deceive against perennial basement side Zebre in a 21-5 win in Cork last weekend, but Connacht head into the game propping up the table with nothing to show for their three games to date.

All three of those games have been on the road, as work continued on replacing the grass pitch at the Sportsground with a synthetic surface, and that is now ready to be unveiled on Friday for a game which Connacht simply have to win if their league season is not to be declared a write-off before the kids have even gone trick-or-treating.

“We want to be a team that plays fast and this [new synthetic pitch] allows us to be fast. This is a massive investment by Connacht Rugby, and I think a brilliant investment, and let’s hope Friday night is the first of many wins on it,” a bullish Andy Friend, Director of Rugby at Connacht, said in his pre-match press conference this week.

It has been a tough start to the season for Connacht: they were trounced 36-10 in Belfast by Ulster on the opening weekend of the season, and followed that with two defeats in South Africa, losing 38-15 to defending champions, the Stormers, and then going down to a 28-14 defeat to last year’s runners-up, the Bulls.

That has left Connacht as the only side in the table without a point, with all three of their opponents to date picking up the maximum five points on offer. Friend knows that has to change, and fast, and he feels there is no better game than the visit of their southern neighbours to get the season off to a belated start.

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

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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