GALWAY FC 0
SHELBOURNE 1 (Coughlan 60′)
Report courtesy of extratime.ie
By Trevor Murray
In one of their most crucial encounters to date, Galway FC welcomed Shelbourne to the west in a closely-contested match as third fell to a 1-0 defeat against second amidst gloomy and damp conditions.
The stakes were high and the players felt it as no quarter was given or asked in a truly entertaining and riveting battle. And the match started as it meant to go on with a lively buzz to the play.
Although it did take 10 minutes for the first real chance of the tie, that wasn’t a reflection on the quality. The hosts’ Gary Shanahan was involved in the first real opportunity of the match after surging forward with the ball at his feet before linking up with Vinny Faherty who found Ryan Connolly. But his shot dragged wide of the post.
Johnny McDonnell’s men responded quickly, however, by fashioning a chance a mere two minutes later. The Reds’ star man, Dylan Connolly, got the ball down and ran at Galway’s back-four, but his shot was deflected away for a throw-in.
Interestingly, Shelbourne looked more variable and adaptable with their formation as they continued to change it throughout the course of the match. Moving from 3-4-3 to 4-2-3-1 and others, they kept the home side guessing – something that played a key role.
But the Galwegians continued to persevere, and they almost broke the deadlock in the24th minute when the influential Ryan Connolly played a delightful through-ball to split the defence, but Shanahan’s shot just wasn’t good enough.
Yet more drama was to follow in the44th minute as Faherty struck the crossbar. Once again, it was Galway’s central midfielder Connolly who was involved as he dinked a ball through for the on-running Faherty who did well to get a shot away under pressure, but it careered off the woodwork and over the bar.
Then with the scores still level, Shelbourne were awarded a free-kick just outside the 18-yard box, and Gareth Coughlan stepped up to fire a shot on goal, but it was gathered easily by Ger Hanley between the posts.
Following the restart, the men from Connacht had a sustained period of pressure for 10 minutes as they continued to look for the opening goal, but it was the visiting outfit who eventually found the only goal of the game just after the hour mark.
In fact, it was Shelbourne’s midfield general Gary Dempsey who had the vision to spot an incisive pass wide to his left where he found the lurking Coughlan, and he made no mistake, after cutting in, to bury the ball past Hanley.
From there, both sides had their fair share of chances as Jason Molloy had a shot on goal in the68th minute, while Dylan Connolly could, and should have doubled the lead with 20 minutes remaining, when faced with only a defender to beat, but he skewed his shot horribly wide of the mark.
The final 10 minutes or so saw Galway frantically search for an equaliser as the clock began to wind down but not even a goal-mouth scramble at the death gave them the reward they were looking for.
So, Shelbourne go seven points clear of Tommy Dunne’s men, while Galway ended the night bitterly disappointed with what probably should have been a draw.
Galway FC: Ger Hanley; Colm Horgan, Marc Ludden, Paddy Barrett, Stephen Walsh; Jason Molloy, Ryan Connolly, Paul Sinnott, Gary Shanahan (Ryan Manning 66); Enda Curran (Jake Keegan 68), Vinny Faherty (Alex Byrne 75).
Unused subs: Aaron McDonagh, Robbie Egan, Connor Gleeson, Padraic Cunningham.
Shelbourne: Greg Murray; Lee Desmond, Philly Hand, Adam O’ Connor; Ryan Robinson, Brian Gannon (John Sullivan 61′), Gary Dempsey, Adam McDonnell, Dylan Connolly; Gareth Coughlan (Keith Quinn 84′), Conor Murphy (Alan O’ Sullivan 45′).
Unused subs: Nathan Murphy, Simon Dixon, Sean Russell, Jake Donnelly.
Bookings: Robinson (59), Coughlan (80)
Referee: Ray Matthews
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Ryan Connolly (Galway FC)