West United sauntered to a facile victory over a hapless and heartless Ballinrobe Town side in South Park yesterday to advance to the fourth round of the Connacht Junior Cup.
Such emphatic scorelines have a tendency to flatter to deceive, and in this case the seven goal drubbing doesn’t encapsulate the contest, in that it could and should have been more. Only wayward shooting either side of half time and a more than difficult playing surface stopped this from reaching double figures.
The fate of the tie was effectively sealed inside the first two minutes. Mike O’Malley was released on the right for the second time. Seconds earlier he had failed to make the most of a similar opportunity. After 90 seconds he ghosted past the Ballinrobe defence and sailed a ball through a number of defenders. Midfielder Dara Ryan took advantage of the ample time and space to take a touch and coolly slot home.
The ensuing exchanges saw Ballinrobe offer a sporadic threat up front, with two set-pieces going too close for home comfort. At the other end, the tone of the game was set with West being afforded endless amounts of time and space. Chances were numerous, as an inept away defence failed to clear their lines on countless occasions. Somehow they were to survive the reaminder of the first half hour, with Matthias O’Malley and Thomas Caldwel miscuing the pick of the chances.
The insurance goal eventually came on 34 minutes when Thomas Caldwell capitalised on a West set-piece. Alan Grant swung in another appetising corner that made its way out to the edge of the area where Caldwell was ideally placed to smash an unstoppable effort into the top corner.
It soon became three, in somewhat controversial circumstances. Dara Ryan delivered long to the back stick from the left. The ball seemed to cross the white line just wide of the post but a sharp Matthias O’Malley continued to play and reversed a ball to a curiously umarked Ian Burke, who tapped home from six yards.
The tempo stagnated early in the second with the outcome abundantly clear to all. A double substitution by the visitors failed to inspire even the semblance of a revival. Meanwhile, the introduction of Simon Murray, Gary Fitzgerald and Jason Curran re-ignited a thirst in the home team to push forward in search of more.
Dara Ryan should have made it more on 52, but he failed to pull the ball back for Keith McHugh in the box, opting instead for an audacious lob that sailed harmlessly over. It was, however, four before long. Sub Simon Murray made an immediate impact, heading home unopposed, with the away centre-halves yet again AWOL, after a beautiful delivery by Burke.
The floodgates seemed set to open at this stage as Ballinrobe, who arrived to Galway with only 11 players, relinquished whatever hunger and effort they had had. The play was almost exclusively contained in their third as West attackers raced free at will and the opposing goalkeeper coughed up chance after chance in the box.
After another sitter went a-begging for the home team, this time newly introduced Jason Curran, who failed to steer home, they effortlessly followed with a fifth. Again Murray provided the finish, this time getting on the end of an inviting Dara Ryan delivery, easily clearing the badly struggling Ballinrobe custodian. Further wayward shooting ensued as West understandably dipped their intensity and abandoned their shape.
Neverthless they were to bag another two in a late flurry, the sixth a bizarre own goal, steered in directly from a Thomas Caldwell corner by Pat McDonald on the front post. Neither was the final goal that impressive, a decent Gary Fitzgerald strike which somehow shaved its way under the ‘keeper to send West on their way with seven.
Racheting up a seven score win might seem like the perfect tonic for high-flying West after their recent defeat to Oranmore in the Premier League. Yet such was the paucity of the opposition, little could be taken from what was little more than an enjoyable kickabout for the home side and an embarrassment for the visitors.
West United: J Cotter; D O’ Neill, S Rabbitte, T Burke, A Grant; Mike O’Malley (G Fitzgerald 58 ), I Burke, D Ryan, T Caldwell; K McHugh (J Curran 60 ), Matthias O’Malley (S Murray 52 ).
Ballinrobe Town: J McTigue; P Delaney, J Fitzpatrick, M Healy, D Henegan; E Reilly (S O’Donnellan 45 ), B Conroy, P Sweeney, D Delaney; McDonald, P O’Gorman (S O’Malley 45 ).
Referee: Vincent Carew.