This score line would suggest Galway United gained a valuable point before the mid-season interval against the reigning champions, but to those gathered in Terryland Park on Tuesday night the reality was that two points were dropped.
Sean Connor's men mixed it with some of the best that the league has to offer, only to be undone by a freak goal 15 minutes from time which saved a point for a Bohemians side that had been reduced to 10 players early in the game.
After impressing early on, the home team was awarded a penalty after 18 minutes. The bounty was doubled as the same passage of play saw the the visitors reduced to 10 men. Karl Shephard's blistering pace allowed him to make the most of a clever ball beyond the full-back. He jostled to put himself beyond the defender who had no recourse but to bundle the former Everton starter over inside the box. The red card for Brian Shelley was mandatory. The finish of the penalty was sublime as the ever-impressive Stephen O' Donnell cheekily chipped over Gypsies’ stopper Brian Murphy to cap a fruitful opening quarter for the homesters.
A lively encounter ensued with the home team making the numerical advantage tell. Ciarán Foley and O' Donnell battled manfully in midfield throughout. The efforts of United were hampered, however, with the forced substitution of the lively Anto Flood through injury on the half-hour mark. However his loss was offset by that of Jason Byrne, who was also forced to exit the game for the visitors through injury.
Galway lacked clear-cut chances, but they could have doubled their advantage as the ball careered dangerously around the Bohs’ box on a couple of occasions. They enjoyed territorial supremacy and displayed glimpses of good football, most notably through Shephard, O' Donnell, and the crafty Bobby Ryan. At the other end keeper Barry Ryan was mainly a spectator, although the visitors improved towards the end of the half.
This momentum followed through after the break. The visitors forced their first couple of corners and began to gain a territorial advantage. Killian Brennan was a constant threat from either the middle or the left where he had a lively joust with the solid Séamus Conneely. The away pressure was eventually rewarded when livewire Paddy Madden pounced on an indecisive reaction to a long free-kick and powered the ball home from six yards to restore parity on 70 minutes.
Much to their credit United responded and forced the issue on their outnumbered opponents. After two corners in quick succession, substitute Tom King drilled a loose ball from a Gary Curran delivery past Barry Murphy in the Bohs’ goal.
The home team seemed destined to notch a famous double over their more illustrious opponents, but a calamitous error at the back conspired to deny Galway maximum points for the second home league fixture in a row. The otherwise impressive Ciarán Foley lobbed a back-pass to Ryan who chested and volleyed straight at an alert Madden. The deflection bobbled helplessly into the Galway goal to set up a 2-2 draw. An extremely heartening performance doomed for a heartbreaking ending.
In the FAI Ford Cup Galway United and Salthill Devon will meet in a local derby in the fourth round, while the winners of Mervue United v Sporting Fingal will meet Limerick.
•Entry forms for the Galway United Supporters’ Trust World Cup forecast competition are available online at www.galwayunitedfc.net The entry fee is €10. All forms must be returned to GUST before the first match of the World Cup on Friday (South Africa v Mexico ) by contacting Ronan Coleman 087-6972823. Tickets for the GUST Aviva Stadium draw (€5 ) are now on sale. The prize is two tickets to Ireland’s first match at the new home of Irish football on Wednesday August 11. GUST will hold its next meeting upstairs in Fibber Magees, Eyre Square on Tuesday, June 15 , at 6.30pm. All United supporters welcome to attend.