Galway United 1
Shamrock Rovers 1
A diluted sense of pleasure accompanies a contest as peculiar as this. Galway United should have taken all three points, but ended up dividing the spoils with Shamrock Rovers. Under the Friday night Terryland Park lights it really was a strange dispute.
Galway correctly took plaudits from a game that showed that heart and honesty remain integral to any footballing team. All through, Galway’s character was evident, particularly so when the Hoops nicked an 83rd-minute lead. By that stage it was Galway who had squandered the gilt-edged opportunities, and it seemed that the wastefulness would be ruthlessly punished.
Galway’s League season was on the line and Jeff Kenna’s charges came back throwing punches. Derek Glynn’s pace was vexing the visitors, and a penalty should have been awarded when the Claremorris speedster tumbled in the area seconds after Maguire’s intervention. No matter, Galway were refusing to leave the sward empty-handed. Some kind of dividend had to be pocketed, the objective was that simple.
And then an equaliser was crafted. That the move commenced via a hopeful throw hurled into the area didn’t bother any Galwegian in the crowd. When Jesper Jorgensen crashed the ball over the line United were back on terms and that carried a deep significance, for it demonstrated that pluck and perseverance can be rewarded.
A winner was now craved and Jorgensen shaved the post with an effort from an acute angle as the match raged to an stirring finish, but parity prevailed. Rovers, who hit the front with only seven minutes on the clock, were relieved to hear referee Anthony Buttimer’s last whistle. It was that sort of combat, one in which the action ebbed and flowed leaving spectators uncertain as to how they should view the final scoreline.
Those who scrutinised the fare will have ambled away from the Dyke Road certain about one fact. On the evening Galway were the more compact and cunning outfit. United’s drive and determination was illustrated by the busy manner in which John Lester led by example in the centre of the park.
Lester chalked up a high tackle count in the opening period and Rovers were ruffled by Galway’s robust approach. It wasn’t all about competitive zeal either as Galway’s football had some zest too.
Seven minutes in, Jorgensen failed to make the necessary connection with Jonathan Keane’s clever assist as Galway blasted out an early warning. Moments later Jay O’Shea skipped clear in the area before extracting the first of several splendid reflex saves from Robert Duggan, who underlined his potential.
At the opposite end Gary Rogers was conducting his duties in a smooth and professional style also. The Galway custodian gathered a Seanie O’Connor shot, while thwarting Padraig Amond with an alert dispossession as the striker was about to pull the trigger. That brief burst of Rovers pressure was forgotten about before the break as Galway regained the initiative.
Lester lashed a long range rocket from near the Corrib Village, but the ball fizzed past the post as Rovers somehow headed in at the interval deadlocked. Within seconds of the restart it was John Russell supplying the creative juices, but Jonathan Keane dragged the ball wide.
Surprisingly considering Galway’s initial glint the fare waned for a spell. When it came back to life it was worth the wait, but the first blow worried the natives.
Ndo’s artistry is always a joy to behold and there was an inevitably that the Cameroon would carve a chance for the Hoops. An immaculate corner was floated into a packed area by Ndo and it was Maguire who climbed highest to thunder the Dubliners ahead.
Another cruel defeat was on the verge of being added to a lengthy list, but Galway reacted swiftly and decisively. It was farcical that Glynn wasn’t granted a spot-kick, still United remained unperturbed. Shortly after Jorgensen finally converted as the evening roared to a dramatic climax.
Jorgensen then struck timber, but Galway just couldn’t eke out a second. The Eircom League is a cruel environment in which to operate, but Galway have 630 minutes to preserve their top flight status. Providing they exhibit the resolve paraded in the last 90 there are possibilities.
Galway United: Rogers; Conneely, A Keane, Fitzgerald, McCulloch; J Keane (Murphy, 58 ), Foley (Glynn, 72 ), Lester, O’Shea, Russell; Jorgensen.
Shamrock Rovers: Duggan; Madden, O’Brien, Maguire, Stapelton; S O’Connor (Langtry, 68 ), Flynn, Rice, Ndo, Purcell (McGill, 80 ); Amond (Leech, 68 ).
Referee: A Buttimer (Cork ).