Pete Kelly reports from Eamonn Deacy Park
Galway United closed the gap at the top of the First Division table to five points with a dominant display and victory over table-toppers UCD at Deacy Park.
Eoin McCormack and captain Ryan Connolly found the target from long range as the Tribesmen ran out fully-deserved winners.
Galway didn't allow UCD to settle from the outset, harrying them all over the pitch and breaking forward quickly when in possession – and this was the formulae for success on the night.
As early as the seventh minute Galway had a chance to go ahead when Marc Ludden found himself in space at the edge of the box, but he shanked his effort well wide.
Three minutes later, they did take the lead as McCormack’s free kick from well over 20 yards found the net off the back of the keeper’s head as it ricocheted down from the underside of the bar.
The free award was a bit dubiously awarded for a foul on Connolly, with Maxim Kougoun protesting his innocence, but Galway nonetheless deserved the lead for their early dominance.
Gary Shanahan’s effort bounced off the bar and over as he tried to keep his effort down from McCormack’s excellent cross.
Danny Furlong, return to the team after illness lacked his usual sharpness and he missed a sitter 11 minutes before half time when UCD keeper Kearns actually passed the ball straight to him.
The former Wexford Youths striker could only wallop it back into the relived keeper’s body. Furlong will have benefited from this outing though.
UCD’s only effort of note in the half came seven minutes from the break when their best player on the night Paul Doyle, let go with a ‘rocket’ of a shot which drew a great save from Ryan.
This was a reminder for the home side of UCD are capable of given tame and space – it would prove to be only a cameo on the night though.
Galway took up where they left off after the break and during that second period Ryan Connolly played a huge role in their dominant display.
He capped his masterful performance on 76 minutes with a goal for the ages, volleying in from 30 yards.
If Galway United can play like this every week, then promotion looks very much on the cards – though UCD will take some shifting from their top spot.
Connolly was outstanding for Galway, with Alex Byrne not far behind. McCormack showed some great form up front and Robbie Williams completely shut out top scorer Georgie Kelly.
Galway United: Tadhg Ryan; Maurice Nugent, (Conor Melody 66), Robbie Williams, Stephen Walsh, Gary Shanahan; Alex Byrne, Ryan Connolly, Marc Ludden, Alan Murphy; Eoin McCormack (Carlton Ubaezuonu 87), Danny Furlong (Conor Barry 78).
Subs Not used: Arek Mamala (gk), Stephen Kenny Conor Layng, Ronan Manning.
Booked: Maurice Nugent (58).
UCD: Conor Kearns; Dan Tobin (Darragh Corcoran 46) Josh Collins, Maxim Kougoun, Liam Scales; Kevin Coffey (Yousef Mahdy 68), Daire O’Connor, Gary O’Neill; Paul Doyle, Georgie Kelly (Ben Hanharan 86), Jason McClelland.
Subs Not Used: Carl Williams, Sean McDonald, Conor Crowley, Evan Farrell.
Booked: Dan Tobin (17).
Referee: Eoin O’Shea (Tipperary).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Ryan Connolly (Galway United).