United way too classy for woeful Wanderers

Galway United 4 Bray Wanderers 0

Amidst a welter of expectation and pressure, a resurgent Galway United extended their unbeaten run to seven in magnificent fashion in Terryland Park on Friday night. The class and confidence which oozed from the home team belied their precarious league position, the deserved four-goal rout lifting them now to a position where a win over St Patrick’s Athletic tonight should lift them out of the drop zone.

If United are to pull off this coup, then the name of Jay O’Shea will forever be synonymous with such an unlikely escape. A vital performer in Galway’s recent spell of quality, he netted an early penalty for the third consecutive game. Coming in the ninth minute, his emphatic spot kick was the ideal start for such an occasion.

It was irrefutable also, emanating from a rash lunge by Galway old boy Daryl Robson after a challenge on excellent full-back Seamus Conneelly. The goal acted as a worthy reward for some fine probing football before and after the first 10 minutes. Rather than dwell and consolidate, Galway continued to play ambitious, flowing football high up the park.

Most players looked eager and comfortable on the ball. The impenetrable duo of John Russell and O’ Shea orchestrated United’s attacking thrust which should have been again rewarded before the half. A string of clumsy offsides and indecisive finishing were to be the only blotches on the copy book of Jeff Kenna’s charges, who played with commitment, passion and intensity.

The pick of the chances came after 26 and 33 minutes. John Lester steered an unmarked on side Vinny Faherty through on goal. His effort was saved by ‘keeper Alan Gough as the rebound fell to a lurking John Russell, whose shot was agonisingly cleared off the line by Derek Pender. More O’ Shea magic almost manifested itself seven minutes later when he curled a sweet free kick from 20 yards, only for it to be denied by the post.

Fans revelled in the positive exploits of the home side but feared what failure to pilfer a second might later mean. Ger Rowe’s scoring opportunity for the visitors on 41 minutes reinforced this nervousness. He carried the ball at the edge of the box and flicked a low shot which beat Gary Rogers but not Conneelly, who had the presence of mind to get back on the line and avert a calamitous equaliser.

After the scare, the second half continued in a similar vein. Chances were not as free-flowing with O’Shea not making much of two openings on 51 and 70 minutes respectively. Both occasions saw O’Shea free on the left in space with the space to shoot. These incidents sandwiched another Rowe effort which screeched just wide after a promising shot from 18 yards. Yet the home team remained on top and began to halt the frenetic pace and eager passing for a more calculated game of ball retention. John Lester proved central in this passage.

But the class and creation of Russell and O’Shea was never to go away and on 73 minutes Galway finally exposed a flawed away rearguard. Russell made headway down the right flank. He carried with purpose toward the area and teed a lovely ball for the onrushing Republic of Ireland under 21 international who burst the top corner with a rasping drive from the edge of the box.

The flood gates then opened, as they had always been liable to. Striker Vinny Faherty, who offered strength and effort throughout, was rewarded with a neat brace in the final 10 minutes. The first came in the 79th minute, when a looping delivery from a free missed the ‘keeper and found Faherty behind the back post. The Moycullen man had the presence of mind to take a touch and pick a spot at the back of the visitors’ net.

If that finish could be chalked down as clinical, then his second was class. Gathering a loose ball in front of the centre-halves, an audacious lob from almost 25 yards crept over Gough to provide the seal on a fabulous evening.

Galway United: Rogers; Conneely, Fitzgerald, A Keane, McCulloch; J Keane (Murphy, 67 ), Foley, Lester; O’Shea, Russell (Daveron, 83 ); Faherty (Jorgensen, 86 ).

Bray Wanderers: Gough; Tresson, Doherty, Kenny, Pender; Coughlan (Cronin, 30 ), Robson (Kavanagh, 60 ), Cawley, Duggan (Kelly, 60 ); Rowe, Myler.

Referee: P Sutton (Clare ).


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