Date: 8 p.m. May 7, 2010
Venue: Tallaght Stadium
Billy Dennehy was the man who provided the openings for both of Rovers’ goals, each dispatched with a minimum of fuss by Stephen Rice in the 48th minute, and captain Dan Murray in the 68th.
But before these defining moments the crowd of 3, 417 watched an uninspiring opening half. It was all very European as Shamrock Rovers played some neat passing football, Galway looked after things at the back and the bright evening sunshine illuminated the Dublin mountains which were doing their very best impression of the Tuscan countryside.
And there was plenty of time to enjoy the view as not a whole lot happened in the opening forty five minutes. Rovers had the better of things from the beginning with Rice and Robert Bayly controlling the centre and the Rovers defence willing to play the ball around on the ground, working inevitably towards Billy Dennehy and Paddy Kavanagh on the wings.
It was all rather pleasant on the eye but the game lacked urgency and there was little end product for Rovers and none for Galway. After 16 minutes a typical burst from Kavanagh down the right flank set up Gary Twigg on the edge of the area but his powerful shot cannoned off the stanchion behind the goal.
Another Kavanagh raid saw his low cross arrive at the back post where Galway’s Bobby Ryan nicked the ball off Dennehy’s toe.
But there was an immediate lift in pace as the second half kicked off. Rovers were clearly determined to turn their dominance into something more tangible, which is precisely what they did just three minutes after the restart. A corner from Billy Dennehy on Rovers’ right was delivered to the back post where Stephen Rice arrived to power home a header.
It was a lead that was fully deserved and Sean Connor responded by bringing on Ciaran Foley for James Creaney. Hanging on for a point was no longer an option and Creaney had struggled to impose himself in an unfamiliar midfield role.
Dennehy was starting to find his mojo on the left wing and the pressure on Galway increased. With 68 minutes on the clock Rovers struck again. Another Dennehy corner from the right was delivered to exactly the same spot in the Galway box and Dan Murray’s angled header snuck past Barry Ryan.
There were a flurry of substitutes as O’Neill sought to tighten the stranglehold and Sean Connor tried to stem the green and white tide. Dessie Baker came on for Thomas Stewart and yet another thorn was introduced to Galway’s side.
The home side seemed destined to score a third and such was the paucity of Galway’s attacking play that Sheppard was withdrawn in the 91st minute, his isolated contribution being negligible.
But with just six minutes to go, it seemed as if the Tribesmen might have the final say. Jamie McKenzie, making a rare sortie forward, was tipped over in the Rovers penalty area by Rice and referee, Neil Doyle pointed to the spot. Up stepped Anto Flood and, in holy communion with Galway’s miserable evening, blasted his kick against the crossbar and away.
One final chance fell to Rice in added time, and it was a measure of Rover’s comfortable evening that the home support felt able to applaud warmly as he blew his shot wide of Ryan’s goal.
This was a result that keeps Rovers in the vanguard of those chasing top spot in the Premier Division and it was a performance that puts Galway’s recent revival into unflattering perspective.
Shamrock Rovers: Mannus; Flynn, Murphy, Sives, Murray (c); Kavanagh, Bayly (Bradley, 66), Rice, Dennehy (O’Connor, 79); Stewart (Baker, 70), Twigg.
Subs not used: Duggan, Stevens
Galway United: Barry Ryan; Creaney (Foley, 50), Meynell, Sinnott, McKenzie; Bobby Ryan, Heary (King, 79), Curran, McBrien; Flood, Sheppard (Keane, 81).
Subs not used: Conneelly, O’Donnell
Bookings: Curran, Creaney, Heary (Galway Utd)
Extratime Man of the Match: Paddy Kavanagh
Referee: Neil Doyle