Salthill Devon 1
Galway Hibs 0
BY TOMAS MANNION
Salthill Devon gained a significant three points at a windswept Drom yesterday, to somewhat distance themselves from the foot of the Premier league table. Yet this was unconvincing performance from the home side and a draw would probably have been the fairest outcome. Hibs, the closest challengers to table toppers and rivals West United, had their chances in this game yet their lack of composure in front of goal ultimately proved their undoing.
With a howling cross-field wind lending to a fractious opening, it was Devon who started the brightest, with Shane Browne orchestrating from the middle of the park. The first major chance fell to Browne, who shot wide from a corner after a frenzied bout of end-to-end action.
Minutes later Devon’s target man Mike Lyndsey had a thunderous drive which was excellently stopped by Mark Philbin in the Hibs’ goal after good work from Kyle Preston Kelly.
Indeed the wily Philbin – who retired late in the second half with a groin strain - saved the Bohermore boys, when advancing smartly on a number of occasions. The experienced netminder was helpless to prevent Shane Browne’s crucial strike however, as the midfielder cleverly despatched the ball over Philbin, and into the top corner. Keith Ward almost restored parity minutes later as his wind-assisted right wing corner nearly crept inside Devon’s far stick.
Hibs upped the tempo in the second period, yet were still betrayed by some wayward shooting. Anthony Kelly’s through ball found Tommy Ward in space but the industrious Ward snapped wide when he should probably have taken a further step.
Devon could not retain possession in that second period as they continually punted the ball aimlessly ahead instead of trying to play cohesively. Midway through the half, Alan Shaughnessy, following an intricate passing movement, crossed invitingly to the danger area yet there was no one there to greet.
With time running out Kevin Cassidy’s men were entrenched in Devon’s half as Tommy Ward’s half volley sailed over following a delivery from the tenacious Brian Griffin. Second half replacement Mustapha Kassimi had a late opportunity to seal the tie for Devon but was repelled by an excellent last-ditch tackle from fellow substitute Finn Graham. Hibs had one last chance to salvage a point but, typical of their day, David Burke headed over from close range with only the ‘keeper to beat.
Devon’s first-half superiority proved the difference although they can count themselves fortunate in garnering maximum points from this one. Hibs will, in contrast, rue their sluggish start allied to their wastefulness. They are capable of much better than what they showed yesterday and will hope this loss will not prove costly when league points are being totalled at season’s end. Only time will tell.
Salthill Devon: N Mulholland; B Naughton, S Nevin, P Fitzpatrick, G O’Leidhinn; M Marnick, C Kileen, S Browne, N Tyrrell (T McCoy 61 ); M Lyndsey (M Kassimi 86 ), K Preston Kelly (R Gilligan 69 ).
Galway Hibs: M Philbin (A McPhilbin 82 ); C Connolly (D Graham 61 ), B Griffin , S Walsh, D McDonagh; K Ward, T Folan (G Kelly 86 ), A Kelly, K Ward; A Shaughnessy, T Ward.