Pete Kelly reports from Eamonn Deacy Park
A 4-3 defeat to Dundalk at Eamonn Deacy Park on Friday night means Galway United have been relegated but they go down with their heads held high following a spirited performance.
The post mortems will take place but perhaps the most telling statistic is their 14 draws – if just two of those had been wins they would have stayed up.
Stevie Folan got the home side off to the perfect start when he after just eight minutes when he blasted home as Dundalk failed to clear a corner.
The euphoria sweeping Deacy Park lasted a mere two minutes and the ball rebounded to Niclas Vemmelund, from Conor Winn’s fine save, and he put in in the net.
Dundalk looked dangerous at al times and when they ran at Galway they always looked likely to score.
Really good defending from Folan allied to some good fortune enable Galway to stay level until the 41st minute, when Jamie McGrath turned beautifully in the box to score, but the work from Stephen O'Donnell to create the chance was brilliant.
Stephen O’Donnell was back to his old self tonight and gave a master class in midfield play.
Dundalk struck again on the stroke of half time, when Patrick McEleney’s sublime chip beat Winn to send the home side into the break with a very bleak outlook indeed.
Anybody who though Galway United’s tenure in the Premier division would come to an end with a whimper were sadly mistaken as Galway came out for the second half full of grit and determination.
Eoin McCormack’s amazing flicked pass sent Hale clear on 52 minutes and he crash a great shot to the net form the edge of the box.
Galway dominated the exchanges for the remainder of the game, but O’Donnell’s guile was vital to Dundalk killing off the game.
A ray of hope shone on 88 minutes when Murray blasted home, but as United came in search of the lead goal, they were caught in the break and Duffy sealed their fate with Dundalk’s fourth.
Heartbreak for Galway, but some consolation for the two thousand fans was Dundalk’s quality and the home side’s character in the best game of the season at Deacy Park.
The future for Galway United is very uncertain and the likelihood is they will lose most of the squad. For Dundalk you can only see continued success, starting with next week’s cup final.
Galway United: Conor Winn; Colm Horgan (capt), Niall Maher, Stephen Folan, Marc Ludden; Gary Shanahan (Padraic Cunningham 78), David Cawley, Rory Hale, Kevin Devaney (Conor Melody 78); Eoin McCormack (Ronan Manning 78), Ronan Murray.
Subs not used: Charlie Burns (GK), Paul Sinnott, Alex Byrne, Conor Barry.
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Niclas Vemmelund, Dane Massey; Stephen O’Donnell (capt), Robbie Benson; Jamie McGrath, Patrick McEleney (Dylan Connolly 58), Michael Duffy; David McMillan (Thomas Stewart 80).
Subs not used: Gabriel Sava (GK), Shane Grimes, Carlton Ubaezuonu, Jake O’Connor, Eric Whelan.
Booked: Brian Gartland (44), Thomas Stewart (90).
Referee: Ben Connolly.
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Stephen O’Donnell.