It proved to be a particularly frustrating Friday in the midlands for Galway United as Kurtis Byrne’s splendid goal earned Athlone Town a 1-0 win in the SSE Airtricity League first division.
Under new manager Paul Doolin, Athlone did enough to thwart United, who started brightly, but were unable to replicate the drive and desire that had been in the success over Shelbourne seven days previously.
United boss John Caulfield was disappointed with how the match unfolded. “We knew with the changes made during the week, with the new manager coming in that they would have a spring in their step,” Caulfield said.
“We had a great travelling support with us, you sensed that. In the first 20 or 25 minutes we created chances, we forced a number of corners, we went very close, Athlone were defending with their lives. It was a period of the match when we needed to score to go ahead.
“Shane Doherty had a header that went just wide and just before half-time Micheál Schlingermann made a very good save from a Dave Hurley free-kick. We came away at half-time feeling that we certainly had done enough to be ahead in the match.”
After the restart when Athlone hit the front, United simply were unable to recover. “Going in nil all obviously gave Athlone confidence, unfortunately in the second half we probably had our worst performance of the season,” Caulfield added. “We just never got going, we never got to the same intensity. I think that is what is most disappointing.
“While Byrne scored a good goal from their point of view, in the build up we made four mistakes which, again, was unlike us. Maurice Nugent then had a header cleared off the line, but overall in the second half we didn't have the intensity, we didn't create enough chances. That is what was disappointing really.”
With no fixture this weekend for United, the September 3 Stradbrook encounter away to Cabinteely is next on the agenda. “We had known a month ago that we had a free weekend so we had planned to do double sessions this week and to have a training match on Friday night, just to keep to the schedule,” Caulfield says.
“We are doing a bit more work. Sometimes when you get a result like the Athlone one it refocuses the lads back to working on stuff. We didn't pass the ball well enough or move the ball quick enough, stuff we had done really well a week earlier.
“These things happen, I keep saying every week it is a new challenge. The level and quality of teams in this division is quite similar. If you don't perform on a day you drop points, we have seen that.
“At the end of the day it is over and done with, this week gives us a chance to prepare, to get ourselves ready, so we look forward to Cabinteely on Friday week.”