Date: 7:45 p.m. April 9, 2010
Venue: Terryland Park
Having gone behind early, Galway showed admirable character to battle back and eventually take the lead through Anto Flood's strike with eighteen minutes remaining. But Fingal had the last laugh as they took a rare chance in injury time to level matters and ended the game with ten men following Keith Quinn's dismissal.
The opening goal came totally against the run of play and had its origins once more in a defensive lapse from the home side, a trait Sean Connor had blamed for previous defeats. Seamus Conneely, generally so composed on the ball, was robbed cheaply by Zayed on half-way and Ronan Finn's counter-attacking radar flashed brightly as he darted onto Zayed's pass and attacked the exposed cover.
Finn sought out the in-form Gary O'Neill, but Jamie McKenzie's desperate tackle forced a ricochet straight into Zayed's path and the striker expertly rolled the ball beyond Barry Ryan and into the net via the post for his third goal of the campaign.
Shell-shocked, Galway stuttered for a time and allowed Fingal play pretty patterns at their will. Soon, though, the home side refound their competitive instincts and Stephen O'Donnell lashed in a free kick that Quigley parried away. O'Donnell was at the heart of most of United's good work, and was denied an equaliser on 23 minutes when Bobby Ryan's flick gave him the chance to shoot but Quigley got down well to save.
Quigley was having a tough time of it, with his kicking of the nervy variety, and was blocked twice but was lucky on both occasions to see the ball squirm away for goal-kicks. Finn continued to be the catalyst for Fingal's most dangerous attacks, bursting forward on 33 minutes, but Galway escaped without a further body blow.
Sean Connor's men kept pressing, but with Karl Sheppard and Anto Flood still in the getting-know-you phase of their relationship, moves forward were breaking down with great regularity. O'Donnell and Ciaran Foley both volleyed wide from the edge of the box before the interval as Galway's midfield attempted to force the pace.
Which they continued to do on the resumption, but without forcing Quigley into action as Flood and Foley wasted decent crossing opportunities and Ryan fired wide from distance. The threat at the other end was still clear, though, as again Finn wriggled into a yard of space at the edge of the area and forced Barry Ryan into a fine one-handed save.
The equaliser arrived just after the hour mark when Bobby Ryan mishit a ball forward but Sheppard pounced on a poor defensive header and struck gold with a magnificent dipping shot that bamboozled Quigley and crept in just under the bar. The crowd rose to acclaim a wonderful strike and their side quickly gave them more cause for cheer.
Flood, growing in confidence, fired just wide from distance before heading accurately but too centrally when well placed. On 72 minutes, though, he opened his United account when he got onto Ryan's deft pass and drilled passed Quigley.
Galway pushed for more, and should have closed out the game such was their dominance. James Creaney went agonisingly close, Flood was inches away from his second when nipping in ahead of Quigley, and O'Donnell was hacked down when it looked certain he would get his first for the club.
It wasn't to be, though, as Sporting Fingal gave one last heave forward in injury time and when the ball wasn't properly cleared, Stephen Paisley squeezed the ball back into the danger area and Gary O'Neill was on hand to poke home from close range. The drama was not over as Keith Quinn saw red moments later for a bad tackle on McKenzie; the crowd booed at the injustice of it all at the final whistle but the inability to close out this game will worry Connor.
Galway United: Barry Ryan; Seamus Conneely, Jamie McKenzie, Paul Sinnott, Rhys Meynell; Bobby Ryan, Stephen O'Donnell, Ciaran Foley, James Creaney; Karl Sheppard, Anto Flood.
Unused Subs: Gary Curran, Tom King, Cian McBrien, Jonathan Keane, Jason Molloy.
Sporting Fingal: Darren Quigley; Ger O'Brien, Stephen Paisley, Shaun Maher, Kenny Browne; Conan Byrne (Keith Quinn, 76), Colm James, Ronan Finn, Alan Kirby (Kevin Dawson, 81); Gary O'Neill, Eamon Zayed (Glen Crowe, 81).
Unused Subs: Robbie Horgan, Brian Gannon.
Referee: Derek Tomney.
extratime Man of the Match: Bobby Ryan.