United's attention now turns to FAI Cup

The jubilant celebrations at full-time in the RSC after Francely Lomboto snatched a late equaliser told the whole story.

With United 16 points clear with nine games remaining, the first division title is now only a question of time and arithmetic.

That they refused to quit and salvaged a point late on speaks to the qualities that has ensured Galway United's position thus far.

There was adversity almost from the off as they fell behind in Waterford inside 20 seconds. Ronan Coughlan fired his side in front on a night where he broke goalscoring records. The striker was in imperious form and drew a goal-line clearance 10 minutes later after a Waterford corner.

Nonetheless, Killian Brouder had the visitors on terms five minutes after that. The towering defender powered home after the tireless David Hurley launched a dangerous ball into the box.

The stalemate did not last long. Barry Baggley planted a cross on the head of Coughlan who made no mistake to register a record-breaking 31st goal of the league campaign.

The introduction of Lomboto and Wassim Auoachria at half-time brought power and purpose to United’s attack in the second half. The third quarter was more positive for John Caulfield’s side. Ed McCarthy, Auoachria and Stephen Walsh all threatened to level it up, while Coughlan continued to be a menace at the other end.

Both sides spurned chances, and referee Alan Patchell was kept on his toes as Waterford had a penalty shout waved away. As time ran out Brendan Clarke launched a hopeful free into the Waterford box. Their keeper Sam Sargeant misjudged the flight and this allowed Francely Lomboto to thunder home the goal.

It may free the hand of his manager for tomorrow night’s FAI Cup tie away to UCD (7.45pm ). There is now some scope to concentrate on a cup competition that offers more opportunity than most years. Some big hitters are already eliminated. Other strong teams are set to face each other elsewhere in this round.

For their part, the students are adrift at the base of the Premier Division and will be keen to harness some positivity from their season. Andy Myler’s side has turned in some positive displays in recent weeks, namely against Sligo, Cobh and Cork. A chastening defeat to the same opposition in the cup last season may provide an extra element of motivation for a United side already assured of history and looking to create more.

•Galway United Friends' Co-op is running a bus to Friday's FAI Cup match against UCD, departing The Connacht Hotel, Galway at 4pm and picking up at along the route to Dublin. To book a seat contact Stephen Connolly 085-2206645


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