With Cup action elsewhere and the Western Hygiene Supplies Premier Division leaders not in action, it was a weekend which happened to concentrate on teams in the relegation area and without a doubt a few results have certainly stirred matters up in that category.
One issue was certainly sorted as Salthill Devon will be relegated after find themselves marooned at the foot of the table, as they were the only side unable to spark any sort of revival in an effort to save themselves.
In contrast, NUI Galway were making it four wins from their last five games with a victory over Devon at Dangan and in the process they have moved up to seventh place in the table.
West United have also begun to redeem themselves and two victories in five days has seen them give themselves a chance to avoid the drop.
The resurrection of that duo has certainly sucked a number of sides who thought they were safe back into the relegation dogfight and Hibernians and East United will certainly be looking over their shoulders in the closing weeks of the season, as they enjoy just a slender advantage over West.
Before the weekend action, Salthill Devon required full points from their final three games and hoped Hibernians picked up none in their quest to get away from the drop zone. They certainly started well at Dangan, as Tommy Bradshaw fired them ahead, before the Cillian Grant show took over as the striker notched his first ever hat-trick.
He levelled matters with a close range rebound after Julius had initially saved a Mikey Creane effort. Then, as the game entered the closing two minutes, it looked like parity was going to be the outcome, until Grant struck twice in a minute to secure a 3-1 win.
He nodded in a header following a Ger Cheevers cross to put them ahead and he completed his hat-trick with a good finish in the final minute, after Cheevers and Stephen Kirk provided the assists.
West United began their fightback with a 3-2 midweek win over NUI Galway. Eric Holland got a late winner after the two sides had traded the earlier goals.
While Gary Mullin had put the visitors ahead at South Park, it was the home side who were soon in command as goals by Tony Ward and Paul Murphy-direct from a corner had them ahead. A Cillian Grant goal levelled matters at 2-2, before Holland had the final say after another Murphy set-piece.
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.