Bray Wanderers 0
Galway United 2
Don’t be duped. The final scoreline offers a precise reflection of what actually occurred at the Carlisle Grounds on Tuesday evening. Galway United’s dominance of this FAI Ford Cup quarter-final replay was unqualified, ensuring Jeff Kenna’s charges confidently rambled into the penultimate stage of the competition with a display of rare dynamism.
Showing the streak of courage necessary in a knock-out environment, Galway were never seriously troubled by an ineffectual Bray Wanderers.
Prompted by the busy and bright Jay O’Shea, Galway dictated the contest from start to finish. Emerging and bold, O’Shea was Galway’s creative hub, embellishing a polished performance with a second-half goal that terminated Bray’s involvement. Indeed O’Shea’s imprints were on Jonathan Keane’s first too as the ex Republic of Ireland u-19 international shimmered with intent.
Early on Galway’s robust central midfield unit enjoyed some productive moments as O’Shea, Jesper Jorgensen, and the tidy John Russell, were permitted to dash into attacking areas. Only seconds were on the clock when an intricate link up involving O’Shea and Russell unnerved the locals who seemed perplexed by Galway’s smart movement.
Then five minutes in United were thwarted by a string of smashing Alan Gough saves. The former Galway stopper denied O’Shea, Jorgensen, and Jonathan Keane in brisk succession as the visitors ought to have bagged the opener.
O’Shea was craving involvement in his innovative new role, working across the pitch intelligently as Bray were uncertain how to deal with Galway’s smooth approach. With Ciaran Foley and John Lester providing the midfield snarl, United’s enthusiasm was impressive. Twelve minutes were on the clock when O’Shea rifled another shot on target which Gough gathered with trademark style, but the signs were explicit - Galway were in the groove.
At the opposite end United coped capably with the few forays Bray managed. Alan Keane’s pace offered an extra layer of security, while Seamus Conneely’s emergence as a safe and solid right full continued. It was not as if the Galway defence were overworked, but they did conduct their business in an authoritative way that augured well.
With O’Shea in such crafty form, Galway carried a potent threat throughout the first half, eventually hitting the front in the 37th minute. Following a sharp and stylish necklace of passes, Marc McCulloch rolled the ball to O’Shea, who evaded two challenges before clattering a shot off the timber. The area was sprinkled with bodies, but Jonathan Keane reacted rapidly to rattle the Bray net from close range.
There were few disputing that it would not be a test of Galway’s resilience after the turnaround. Initially Conneely had frustrated Mark Duggan, who was switched into the middle in a reshuffle as the pacy Paddy Kavanagh went to the left as Bray sought to examine the coltish youngster’s credentials. A restrained Kavanagh was substituted shortly after, merely confirming the suspicion that Conneely has the ability to be a sound performer at this elevated level.
Despite the introduction of Daryl Robson, who showed the bite and bark Bray had been previously lacking, the Wanderers were bereft of imagination. Galway were thoughtful and a second goal of sweet simplicity was struck in the 53rd minute. Russell released Jorgensen who scampered clear down the flank before slipping the ball into O’Shea’s path. Though the drizzle that poured relentlessly from the Wicklow sky made the underfoot conditions tricky, O’Shea was poise personified when presented with the opportunity, guiding an immaculate shot beyond Gough’s despairing lunge.
Bray were restricted to a couple of innocuous long-distance efforts as Galway staunchly refused to buckle, with Alan Keane admirably negating the wily Andy Myler’s influence. Bray were ponderous, and a gritty Galway progressed.
Bray Wanderers: Gough; Pender, Doherty, Kenny, Cronin; Kavanagh (Dunphy, 72 ), Whelan, Cawley (Robson, 46 ), Duggan; Rowe (Kelly, 61 ) Myler.
Galway United: Rogers; Conneely, A Keane, Fitzgerald, McCulloch; J Keane, Lester, Foley; J Keane, O’Shea (Tierney, 80 ), Russell (Glynn, 77 ); Jorgensen (Faherty, 87 ).
Referee: A Kelly (Cork ).