It was an absence of 852 nights, but it was worth the wait, even if the result wasn’t what was hoped – Galway FC made its League of Ireland debut against Longford Town in Eamonn Deacy Park on Friday night in front of almost 2,500 people, comfortably the biggest First Division crowd over the weekend.
While the visitors took the spoils, courtesy of David O’Sullivan’s 70th minute strike, the night was never really about the result, but instead the return of League of Ireland football to one of the finest grounds in the country.
After much negotiating, and no little fall-out, the League of Ireland now has a Galway team, rather than a team – or teams – from Galway. A subtle difference in one sense, but a massive one in another, as was spelled out by an official attendance of 2,418 as Galway united for soccer.
It was November 4, 2011, when Galway United played what turned out to be its last-ever senior game, losing the second leg of the promotion-relegation play-off to Monaghan United. That game was attended by Michael D Higgins, who was then recently elected as President of Ireland; and the country’s First Citizen returned on Friday night to witness what will hopefully be a new dawn for Galway soccer.
A win would have been a dream start for Galway FC, but it wasn’t to be as the hot favourites for the title, Longford Town, eked out a narrow 1-0 win, but Galway FC have a chance to bounce back immediately when they host the Mayo League side in the EA Sports Cup in Eamonn Deacy Park tonight (7.45pm).
“It was a typical first game of the season, whoever scored first was probably the team that was going to go on and win it and unfortunately that was Longford, but there were a lot of positives to be taken, and a lot of things to look forward to,” said Galway FC manager, Tommy Dunne.
He admitted the absence through suspension of Stephen Walsh, Ryan Manning and Derek O’Brien left him short of options when trying to chase an equaliser, but that trio are expected to start tonight.
“We’ll have to freshen things up for Tuesday night, we picked up a few niggly injuries against Longford and you don’t want to over extend people too early in season. Of course the League Cup is important to us, but we’ve got to look at the league, players were pushing hard tonight, the first competitive 90 minutes can take the toll on the body, so I’ll make some changes for Tuesday night.
“That said, we are certainly not underestimating the Mayo League – their players will relish playing in Eamonn Deacy Park, and I’d imagine some of them will go into the game thinking if they play well, they might just catch our eye and maybe make the step-up to the League of Ireland,” he said.
As per competition rules, season tickets do not apply for Cup matches (FAI Cup or EA Sports Cup), so admission will be €10 for adults, €7 for students, OAPs and the unwaged, while children under the age of 12 who are accompanied by an adult will be admitted free of charge.
Meanwhile the Galway United Supporters Trust is running a bus to Friday night’s League game away to Waterford United in the RSC. The bus will depart from the Spanish Arch at 2.30pm – seats can be booked by contacting Dominick Walsh at 087 9163438 or Ronan Coleman at 087 6972823.
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.
Cup offers United chance to boost morale
HAVING insisted all year that Galway United’s First Division campaign has been about developing their young talents, manager Alan Murphy has admitted this Sunday’s first round FAI Cup tie against Leinster Senior League side, Collinstown at Whitehall Stadium (2pm) is about winning.
United have not recorded a competitive victory since mid-May, when they came from behind to see off Longford Town 2-1 in a First Division fixture at Eamonn Deacy Park. That win came courtesy of two Vinny Faherty goals.
Since then, they have lost eight of their twelve outings, with their four draws coming against Cabinteely, Bray Wanderers, Athlone Town, and the First Division’s bottom team, Wexford Youths, who have won just two First Division fixtures this season.
However, this weekend’s Cup game against a non-League of Ireland outfit could provide a much-needed morale boosting victory for his charges.
“It would,” acknowledged Murphy. “Even to be in the next round of the FAI Cup would be huge; it would be huge for this group of inexperienced players that I have really. I mean, every game is a brilliant chance for these guys to get another little bit of experience, and to experience a different challenge, and this weekend will provide exactly that.
“I have said, week in, week out, this is a development year and these players need experience but this weekend is probably a little bit more about winning than it has been all season because of the fact you will be out of the competition if you don’t win,” he said.
Se full preview in City Tribune Sport.