Oranmore reignited the race for the Western Hygiene Supplies Premier Division title on Sunday afternoon when they beat pacesetters West United thanks to Mike Fahy’s late winner. A game that always had the look of a potential banana skin for West proved as much, as the leaders fell to their first defeat of the season and could have few complaints about the final outcome.
Fahy’s goal arrived two minutes from time, as West pushed bodies forward in search of a winner. Conor Leydon’s booming kick caused consternation and Dave Devlin profited, racing into the box before taking aim at the bottom corner. West ‘keeper John Cotter, not for the first time, was equal to it, but could only parry Devlin’s effort into the path of the substitute who gleefully tapped in.
Based on their first half showing it was no more than Oranmore deserved, as Brian Mannion tested the West back four on every occasion and twice provided through balls that could have forced the opener.
The first of these came on 13 minutes when Oranmore broke at pace and Mannion found Alan Barrett to his right with a well-weighted pass. The winger rifled in a shot that Cotter kept out with a strong right hand, but Shane O’Neill will want to forget his effort from the rebound as he fluffed his lines in front of an open goal.
West’s best move of the half saw Ian Burke feed Simon Murray on the right flank, but Jason Curran couldn’t divert his cross on target and Oranmore survived. Apart from that the leader’s efforts were well stifled by a defence that was offered solid protection by the presence of Dave Eignor in the holding midfielder’s role.
Mannion was the provider on 38 minutes, again releasing Barrett, who this time went for the near post. His drive beat Cotter but rattled the post and ended up out by the sideline such was the force of the shot.
Half time came and went but West, who got the hairdryer treatment from William Grant during the interval, couldn’t lift their game above the ordinary. They were clearly missing Dara Ryan and Gary Fitzgerald who were both absent through illness, and even the introduction of Mathias O’Malley just before the hour mark failed to improve their attacking threat.
Numerous corners and free kicks were cleared to safety by the home side, whose attacking instincts were curbed once Mannion was forced off with a suspected hamstring injury early in the half. They flew into every tackle with gusto, and tempers threatened to boil over on occasion, but thankfully didn’t.
West’s defining moment of the game came with six minutes left when one of Ian Burke’s long throws was half cleared as far as Mike O’Malley. The midfielder took aim and made solid connection, the shot looking destined for the top corner. But as it passed through a crowded area, the ball struck his teammate Tom Burke on the head and flew narrowly over the bar.
Yesterday’s win moves Oranmore up into fifth in the table, six points clear of Colga and NUIG, while West will now be looking over their shoulders as Galway Hibs and Athenry close in on the leaders. Four points separate the three sides in what should now become a very intriguing second half to the Premier Division season.
Oranmore: Conor Leydon; Brian Crowe, Ollie Neary, Sean O’Neill, Dave Devlin; Lonan O’Farrell, Dave Eignor, Dave Sheehan, Alan Barrett; Brian Mannion, Shane O’Neill. Subs: Tony Kelly for Mannion (50 mins ), Mike Fahy for Shane O’Neill (81 mins ).
West United: John Cotter; Seamus Rabbitte, Tom Burke, Keith McHugh, John Egan; Thomas Caldwell, Ian Burke, Dara O’Neill, Mike O’Malley; Simon Murray, Jason Curran. Subs: Mathias O’Malley for Curran (56 mins ).
Referee: Tony Geasley.