Corrib Rangers 1
Mike Rafferty at Drom
The fortunes of the respective Byrne Cup finalists could not be greater and as Athenry maintained their seasonal record of collecting silverware, while in total contrast Corrib Rangers can only look back in horror at their failure in big games.
Saturday’s Michael Byrne Cup final in Drom presented an opportunity to the two sides that were in Mervue United’s Premier League slipstream all season, and while one team rose to the occasion and gained a merited reward, the other really failed to raise a heartbeat in a timid offering.
Athenry were quickest out of the blocks and set a tempo that Rangers just could not match, and from such humble beginnings the city side struggled to lift their game to the type of level that would gain them any reward.
It is difficult to fathom what happens to Rangers in the big games, because somehow a talented bunch of players always appear to underachieve. It must be equally puzzling for manager Brendan O’Connor, and while he shook up the side with a number of changes, it didn’t appear to have the desired effect.
As ever, the performance of Athenry was honest and while the scoreline ensured the contest was always alive, it more than flattered the city side.
It is always refreshing to see a new player make a breakthrough and the performance of Aaron van Niekerk on the right side of the Athenry midfield really caught the eye. Just 17-years-old, he displayed an ability that made him look very comfortable in his surroundings.
Only good Rangers cover and some good fortune kept the contest scoreless in the opening quarter as Athenry dominated. Cathal Fahy and Ray Moran lorded the midfield exchanges as Rangers struggled to get out of their own half. Daragh Geraghty was certainly the busier custodian as his area was under constant threat.
Fahy, Ray Moran and Gary O’Donnell all threatened before Athenry took the lead on 29 minutes, when Conor Cannon delivered a free kick from the left touchline and Stephen Rabbitte rose highest to power home a header for a 1-0 advantage.
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.