It is almost as ever nothing has changed as the top two of last season run up convincing wins on the opening day of the Western Hygiene Supplies Premier Division campaign.
It was also an occasion where new signings made some crucial contributions at their new clubs as Barry Moran notched a hat-trick as Mervue United got their campaign off to a winning start; while Gerry Dolan and Brian Duhan both scored twice for Corrib Rangers as they easily dismissed East United.
Mervue United 4 Hibernians 1
Two set-piece goals each side of the break helped Mervue United break their duck in a contest that certainly had not gone their way in the opening half at Fahy’s Field on Sunday morning.
However, once they made the breakthrough they pulled away with ease, as they were by far the better side in the second half and while Hibernians matched them in the last quarter, by then the game was long gone from their grasp.
New faces were certainly very much in focus, as the usual merry-go-round of players on the move between clubs saw 12 new players start between the two teams.
Certainly former Rangers duo Barry Moran and Simon Walsh were very much to the forefront of the home success, along with fellow newcomers Dan Tuck (Oughterard), Barry McEntee (West United) and Eoin O’Boyle who moved up from the club’s B team.
Hibernians fielded three former OLBC personal in Ronan Caldwell, Barry Molyneux and Damien Carter, along with ex-Rangers duo Paul Fitzpatrick and Dave Smith. Former Mervue schoolboy Evan Browne lined out at left-full and faced his uncle, Eric, down the line at right-back, while former Salthill Devon and West player Conor Murray completed the new starting faces for the Bohermore outfit.
Without a doubt it was Moran who left the more lasting impression as his two opening goals displayed all his predator instincts, where goal poaching is his forte. However he showed his class also with a stunning strike for the third.
While neither goal was over extended in the opening half, it certainly appeared that it was Hibernians who offered the greater threat going forward. Neither goalkeeper was overworked, although home custodian Brian O’Donoghue dealt well with the rare efforts on target and his save from Dave Smith on 28 minutes was the highlight.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.
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.