Galway FC face a busy start to new campaign
Galway FC face a busy start to their inaugural season in the League of Ireland after being handed a home tie in the League Cup which is scheduled to be played just three days after they kick-off their season against Longford Town on March 7.
The draw for the EA Sports Cup has seen 24 teams split into four groups of six teams, and Galway FC have been handed a First Round tie against the Mayo League which will be played in Eamonn Deacy Park on Monday March 10 (7.45pm).
Finn Harps host Ulster Senior League side Cockhill Celtic – who dumped Galway United out of the League Cup in 2011 –in the other game in the group, while both Derry City and Sligo Rovers have been handed First Round byes.
The winners of the Galway-Mayo and Harps-Cockhill games will then go into the hat with Derry City and Sligo Rovers for the Seound Round draw, and the winners of those two games will progress to a national open draw for the quarter finals along with the two qualifiers from the other three pools.
Mervue United have also been invited to play in this year’s EA Sports Cup, and have been placed in Pool 4 along with Athlone Town, Longford Town, Bohemians, St Patrick’s Athletic and UCD. The Fahy’s Field side have been handed a First Round bye along with St Patrick’s Athletic.
Meanwhile, Galway FC’s preseason campaign continues with two games scheduled next week. Tommy Dunne takes his side to the North West next Wednesday to take on Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds (7.30pm), having already defeated Ian Barraclough’s side 5-3 in Fahy’s Field on Saturday February 1; and they then host Athlone Town in Eamonnn Deacy Park on Saturday February 22 (6.30pm).
Dunne’s squad has already played three friendlies in preparation for the start of the new season: as well as the win over Sligo Rovers, they recorded a 2-1 win over Dundalk in Mervue on Tuesday night, while they lost 1-0 to Limerick FC last Thursday week, February 6.
President Michael D Higgins will attend the season opener against Longford on Friday March 7 – President Higgins was the former President of Galway United FC.
Season tickets cost €99 for adults, €199 for a family of five (two adults and three children under the age of 18); while student/unwaged/OAP tickets cost €65. Tickets are available in the city from Eamonn Deacy Park, the Mervue United clubhouse, O’Brien’s Newsagents on Williams Street; and Reidy’s Menswear in the Galway Shopping Centre.
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.