Bray Wanderers 2
Mervue United 0
Keith Kelly at the Carlisle Grounds
A season which started with so much promise for Mervue United is now in danger of falling into disappointment once again after Johnny Glynn’s side bowed out of the FAI Cup in the Carlisle Grounds on Friday night.
It was a fourth defeat on the trot for Mervue, a run which included an exit from the EA Sports Cup as well as the FAI Cup, and having sat on the coat-tails of league leaders Longford Town for so long, they have now slipped nine points behind the Midlanders in fourth place.
Of all the ties drawn from the hat for the Second Round, this was the one most agreed had the greatest prospect of an upset, but that was never on the cards as the home side controlled proceedings from first whistle to last to comfortably progress to the last 16.
Jason Byrne scored twice, and the veteran striker could have had at least two more as Conor Gleeson and his defence endured a busy night. It was a different story at the other end as Mervue failed to test Darren Quigley even once, managing just three off-target efforts throughout the 90 minutes.
The first chance of the game actually fell to the visitors in the sixth minute, Shane O’Connor’s clearing header landing at the feet of Tom King 30 yards from goal, but the returning skipper got under the ball, his lofted shot clearing Quigley’s crossbar by a comfortable distance.
Jason Byrne tried his luck from a similar distance a minute later, but the outcome was the same, and with both teams struggling to keep the ball on the deck, a long night looked on the cards.
However, the home side soon settled, with Gary Dempsey pulling the strings in the heart of midfield, and the veteran playmaker would have opened the scoring in the 11th minute after good link-up play with Ismahil Akinade, only for Michael McSweeney to nip in with a timely interception.
Dean Zambra forced Gleeson in his first save of the game two minutes later when he found the target with a 25-yard shot, but the ‘keeper was behind it all the way. The home side were starting to get a grip on the game, and that became a stranglehold in the 20th minute when they opened the scoring.
Kieran Waters won a dubious free-kick wide on the right, and Zambra’s delivery picked out the run of Jason Byrne, who lost his marker to rise unopposed 12 yards from goal to head past Gleeson.
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.