Before the cessation of all football activity by the FAI, Galway United and Athlone Town met in the first round of the EA Sports Cup at Eamon Deacy Park, the hosts advancing with two second half goals following a scoreless conclusion to the opening moiety.
Just four players kept their place in the Athlone starting line up from the Cobh Ramblers game as manager Adrian Carberry gave his fringe players and some of his under 19 squad a run out.
The early season cup tie offered both clubs the opportunity to get a much needed first win of the campaign. There was little action in a scrappy opening.
Galway had the first chance after 15 minutes but a free kick from Timmy Molloy flew just wide of the post. Marc Ludden and Dylan Sacramento had further chances from dead ball situations. The latter should have opened the scoring after 26 minutes when released by a ball over the top, but the shot flew over the bar.
Galway had all the chances and Alberto Cabanyes was almost in to get a goalbound touch on an inviting cross. While hardly seen as an attacking force, Athlone would have been reasonably pleased reaching half time and still on level terms. Last season, extra time was needed to separate the teams in the same competition and a repeat was a possibility. All was to change when play resumed.
Galway made the crucial breakthrough soon after the restart. Cabanyes opened the scoring after 49 minutes following a good move also involving Ludden and Wilson Waweru.
Adam Lennon then joined the action as Carberry looked to spruce up the away attack. The visitors had a good chance to draw level with new signing Jordan Carroll almost making a dream debut, Galway keeper Micheal Schlingermann making a flying save to deny his former club. It was one of the few times though the home keeper was called into action.
Harry Cornally was the second Town switch, however Galway all but secured their place in the next round with a second score on the hour mark. Cabanyes was the provider this time as Waweru finished the cross to the net.
Athlone failed to respond and a final change saw Mamoud Mansaray come on to make his debut. Galway veteran Vinny Faherty also joined the action for the closing stages and soon had a chance to create a late impression, the striker inches away from making it three nil. The shot beat Athlone goalkeeper Aaron Myles but tailed off to drift just wide of the post.
Three additional minutes were indicated but Galway easily held out for the final whistle to sound to put their name in the hat for the second round. Athlone’s poor record in the competition continues and they have to go back to 2010 for their last success when they beat local rivals Longford.
A return to action, while scheduled for early April, could be some time away.