Galway Hibernians 5
Bathed in the freakish sunshine that enveloped Bohermore, Galway Hibernians claimed all three points from Oranmore in an eight-goal thriller on Saturday afternoon. First-half goals from Eddie Ward, Kevin Finnegan, Patsy Ward and Tony Folan put the hosts in total command of the fixture, but they were made to sweat slightly after a spirited second-half Oranmore revival.
Oranmore played with the aid of a stiff breeze in the opening half, but immediately found themselves chasing the game as Eddie Ward broke the deadlock after 90 seconds. Keith Ward swung a corner to the back post, which was headed back across the goal by Gary Kelly, gifting the Hibs defender with the easiest of close-range headers.
The lead was short lived, however, as the visitors struck back 10 minutes later. A miss-hit shot from Brian Crowe landed perfectly at the feet of Dave Devlin, who rifled home to the roof of the net. Oranmore came into the game nicely after their equaliser, with some fine passing movements, but were hit with a sucker-punch after 18 minutes.
Folan picked up possession wide on the right on half-way, and struck the finest of passes around the Oranmore centre-backs. The ball landed perfectly into the path of Finnegan, who blasted home first-time under the despairing dive of Conor Leydon.
Despite some excellent spells of possession after their second, Hibs were unable to further extend their lead, and were punished severely after 28 minutes. Dave Eignor struck a free from deep into the heart of the Hibs area and, aided with the faintest of deflections off Folan, the ball managed to find the back of the net.
Unfortunately for Oranmore, their hard work was immediately undone as Patsy Ward restored the home side’s one goal cushion. Dave McDonagh hit a defence-splitting pass for the big winger to chase. He beat the advancing Leydon to the ball and toe-poked home, receiving a tough tackle from the ‘keeper for his trouble.
Incredibly, four minutes later, Hibs were awarded a penalty for hand-ball by Eignor. It was a harsh decision, as it looked more like ball-to-hand, so perhaps justice was served when Keith Ward's spot-kick sailed wide of Leydon's right post.
However the Magpies were not to be denied as they struck their fourth, two minutes before the break. Keith Ward received a neat pass from Patsy Ward down the right wing. His cross was cleared, but fell to Folan, who made no mistake with a crisp effort.
After the rip-roaring opening half, it was inevitable that there would be a lull in the action and we had to wait until midway through the half for the next goal, and it was a gift that let the Reds creep back into the match. Adrian McPhilibin came to collect a harmless Dave Sheehan free kick but spilled to the feet of Alan Barrett, leaving him the simplest of tap-ins.
Oranmore laid siege on the Hibs' goal in search of the equaliser and had some fine opportunities to clinch a point. Both John Latchford and Barrett saw their free-headers from close range sail wide, and Sheehan had his long-range shot easily saved.
With time rapidly disappearing, the visitors poured men forward in search of a deserved draw, but were caught out with only one minute remaining. Substitute Stephen Walsh found himself one-on-one with the ‘keeper. Walsh sailed past Leydon, but went crashing to the ground after rounding the ‘keeper. Referee John O'Reilly had no option but to show Leydon the red card, and Folan made no mistake from the spot, sending emergency keeper ‘Eignor the wrong way.
This win moves Hibs up to second place in the table, only two points behind West Utd who they will also face in the FAI Junior Cup next month. Next for Kevin Cassidy’s side is a home tie with old rivals Mervue next Saturday, while Oranmore, who can’t be too upset with their early season form, will travel out to Drom on the same day to take on Salthill Devon.
Galway Hibernians: A McPhilbin; C Connolly, D O'Loughlin, E Ward, G O'Loughlin; P Ward, T Folan, G Kelly, D McDonagh (S Walsh, 39 ); K Finnegan (T Ward, 59 ), K Ward (D Burke, 83 ).
Oranmore: C Leydon; J Latchford, O Neary, S O'Brien, B Crowe; A Barrett, D Eignor, D Devlin, D Sheehan; B Mannion (A Mannion, 62 ), J Jennings (W. Carr, 55 ).
Referee: John O'Reilly.