THE Airtricity U-19 League action presented a weekend of contrasts for Mervue United and Salthill Devon, for while the former were collecting the First Division Southern Division trophy after topping the table, the campaign ended in disappointment for Devon as they finished second from bottom of the Elite Division.
Losses in their last three games added to their downfall, but a continuously changing side could win just twice in the second half of the season and the lack of a regular goal scorer added to Salthill’s woes as they just picked up eight from 33 points in that period.
However, there might be a reprieve on the cards for both Galway sides – for it is believed a new format is to be put in place for next season – where there will just be two divisions instead of the current three.
While Mervue United topped their lower division as champions – they did not secure promotion via the ongoing play offs while Devon could avoid relegation as the participating teams would be based on a geographical spread. There is no official word from the FAI on the matter yet,
Sligo Rovers 3
Salthill Devon 2
In a game played on the Astro Turf at Sligo IT, a typical Devon start saw them three down before they started to warm up and despite a good second half performance, the gap was just too much to bridge.
An early Cian Brennan brace was added to by Gary Armstrong as Sligo got the better of Kevin Horgan for the third time by the 24th minute and the only sign of a comeback at the other end was a Morgan Lyons effort which hit the target.
The second half was a different story as Devon generally controlled the exchanges and on 51 minutes pulled one back as Antaine O’Laoi drilled a free kick from outside the box into the top corner.
They were denied a second moments later when Rafa Lubinski crashed an angled effort off the crossbar before the woodwork came to the home side’s rescue once more when an O’Laoi corner was met by the head of Jason Lyons only to clip the bar.
With Lyons now in a central role, there was more of a cutting edge about the visitors and he wasn’t far off the mark with a shot that was deflected out for a corner.
Devon continued to press on as O’Laoi and Lubinski offered the greater threat. The latter was denied, as yet another shot was deflected wide of goal, before he eventually got his reward on 74 minutes.
Cormac Raftery provided the delivery with a ball down the line and Lubanski displayed great skill and composure before making it 3-2 as he cut in and slotted home, but they were unable to engineer an equaliser.
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.