Mervue United 1
Salthill Devon 2
Mervue United paid a heavy price for some careless defending last Wednesday evening as Salthill Devon emerged victors from the first city derby of the Eircom League A Championship. Enda Dunne’s cool finish 19 minutes from time stole the points for Devon from a game where they only had two meaningful efforts on goal but profited on both occasions.
Coming into the game, Mervue had suffered contrasting fortunes in the capital, beating Shamrock Rovers before going down heavily to Bohemians. David O’Brien made his home debut, while some local acquisitions in the form of Keith McHugh, Alex Lee and Gary Traynor filled the substitutes’ bench.
Salthill were desperate to record their first points since their opening day defeat of Sligo Rovers, as player/coach Mike Quirke returned to the side to square up against another wily campaigner, Mervue’s Rynal Browne.
O’Brien had a solid outing at right full, and was involved as early as the third minute when his raking crossfield ball picked out Rory Gaffney on the back post, but the winger’s volley zipped past Ger Hanley’s right hand upright. Dave Goldbey’s pace caused Breen Geraghty and James Whelan problems all night, and he was ably assisted by Gaffney and Kevin Barrett as Mervue dominated the opening half.
Gaffney headed straight at Hanley before Mike Tierney had a great chance to open the scoring on 33 minutes. Again it was O’Brien’s through ball which this time deceived Paddy Quinlan, and Tierney had time to pick his spot from 10 yards out but could only shoot tamely at the Irish U-17 ’keeper.
It was a let off for Devon and they responded by moving striker Brian O’Grady back into the middle of the park where Browne and Ian Snee were holding court. Mervue made changes of their own at the break, moving Barrett out to the right wing where he made an impact within 16 seconds of the restart.
Hanley’s poor throw put Alan Harty under immediate pressure on the edge of the area from Barrett, who stole the ball and had a simple task to roll the ball across to Goldbey who slotted in from close range.
It was a deserved lead which lasted barely two minutes. A free kick out on the right flank for Devon was floated towards the Mervue area where, inexplicably, Quirke had time to control the ball and pass it beyond Brian O’Donoghue for the leveller. It was harsh on the home side but they recovered well and had a 15 minute spell where they peppered Hanley’s goal to no avail.
First, O’Brien shot wide from an acute angle before Goldbey capitalised on a weak backpass but couldn’t find a colleague in the box. A slick passing move saw Tierney lay the ball off for Goldbey on 62 minutes but the striker saw his shot well saved by the young net minder. Goldbey then headed a fine cross from Barrett over the crossbar as it looked inevitable that Mervue would force a second.
But they didn’t, and when they over committed for an attacking free kick, Devon broke at pace through Eugene Greaney and, with three against one he picked his pass well, feeding Dunne who had dashed through the middle, and the winger raced into the area before firing past O’Donoghue.
Johnny Glynn brought on Keith McHugh to partner Goldbey in an attempt to at least salvage a point from the game, but it wasn’t to be as Barrett’s injury time effort which flew over the bar was as close as they came. This was a satisfying win for the Seasiders who had previously been unlucky in defeat. Mervue will no doubt be eager for revenge when the sides meet again in late September.
Mervue United: B O'Donoghue; M Lundy, M Conneely, E Browne, D O'Brien; R Gaffney, I Snee, R Browne, M Tierney; D Goldbey, K Barrett. Subs: K McHugh for Tierney (75 mins ).
Salthill Devon: G Hanley; A Harty, B Geraghty, J Whelan, P Quinlan; E Dunne, E Greaney, M Quirke, A Cregg; M Lyndsey, B O'Grady. Subs: P Waldron for Harty (70 mins ), G Cheevers for Lyndsey (60 mins ), C Burke for Cregg (84 mins ).
Referee: John McLaughlin.