Mervue Utd moved back to third in the First Division table as they came from a goal down to claim a vital away win and deny Longford Town the opportunity of regaining top spot after a well-deserved 3-1 win at the City Calling Stadium on Saturday evening
Despite Longford taking the lead against the run of play through David O’Sullivan in the opening half, Johnny Glynn’s side bounced back to level matters through Gary Shanahan within four minutes and then went on to score twice in three second half minutes to record only a second away win of the season.
Mervue should have taken the lead on 18 minutes as Willo McDonagh’s poor headed clearance went straight into the path of Stephen Walsh but he overhit his attempted lob with just goalkeeper Chris Bennion to beat.
An early injury to defender Ross Kenny saw Tom King enter the fray after 20 minutes as Glynn had to reshuffle his defence. Shanahan went close just before the half hour mark when he shot wide from a good position following an excellent cross-field ball from Marc Ludden.
Derek O’Brien fired straight at Connor Gleeson after O’Sullivan’s blocked effort broke to the winger inside the box before the home side hit the front. Gary Shaw delivered a perfect cross from the right wing to pick out O’Sullivan who had pulled away from his marker to powerfully head beyond Gleeson on 37 minutes for his 17th goal of the season.
Mervue responded well and were back level when the home side failed to clear Jason Molloy’s corner and Ryan Manning’s shot was deflected onto the post with Shanahan tapping home the loose ball from two yards.
Walsh set up Manning with a neat piece of play two minutes after the resumption but Bennion saved the youngster’s effort, while Gleeson gathered a Keith Gillespie volley at the other end. Bennion did well saving another Manning shot on 55 minutes and a minute later Shanahan saw his low shot from the edge of the box hit the outside of the post.
Bennion produced another top drawer save on 66 minutes when he pushed away Manning’s low freekick from just outside the box after Walsh had been hauled down. Gleeson saved another Gillespie shot and Longford’s Corrie Treacy headed away a dangerous Jason Molloy cross from under the crossbar as the game was hanging in the balance.
Shanahan tested Bennion once again as the keeper came out on top after 74 minutes but four minutes later the visitors hit the front in style. Molloy picked up possession in midfield before moving across the park and releasing a beautiful ball for Shanahan to run onto from the left and he brilliantly lobbed the advancing Bennion for 2-1.
A stunned Longford were 3-1 down three minutes later as the tireless Walsh finally got his reward when Shanahan turned provider, releasing the striker through the middle, and he fired into the corner past Bennion with nine minutes remaining to seal the points.
It was almost 4-1 before the end as the visitors continued to push for more goals as Walsh laid the ball into the path of Gary Curran but the midfielder dragged his shot wide of Bennion’s left hand post.
This result really opens up the First Division title race as Longford’s nine point lead has now evaporated and only four points separate the top four in the First Division.
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.