Date: 8 p.m. Sept. 24, 2010
Venue: Tallaght Stadium
There was no miraculous recovery for Galway United when they came to Tallaght for the second weekend in a row. Still bruised from their 6-0 drubbing in the FAI Cup quarter-finals they might have hoped for a rub of that old football staple, the ‘backlash’. It was not to be.
Shamrock Rovers announced their attacking intentions early, Gary Twigg slipping a quick free kick to James Chambers in the fourth minute. His driven ball into the box found Thomas Stewart but the ex-Derry City player bounced his shot wide of Daire Geraghty’s near post and Galway survived.
Five minutes later and it was Galway who were staring down the barrel of the opening goal. A long ball from Rhys Meynell dropped in front of Karl Sheppard with the Rovers defence taking too much time to react. Sheppard, perhaps as surprised as anyone to find himself with the goal looming in front of him, snatched at the dropping ball and it rolled wide.
Just one minute later Gary Twigg had the home side in front. Chambers played a ball in to Neale Fenn’s feet, wide on the right of the Galway box and he looked to be well covered by the visitor’s defence. But with a swivel of the hips Fenn delivered a sublime chip to the back post where Twigg arrived all on his own to knock in the opening goal of the game.
The only meaningful response that Galway could muster was a 25 yard shot from Karl Sheppard that floated harmlessly wide on fifteen minutes. The rest of the half belonged to the home side who duly increased their lead on 26 minutes when it was Twigg who once again found the net from close in after good work from Thomas Stewart on the left.
It was a rare goal from defender Craig Sives that gave the Hoops their three goal half time advantage. He met a superb Stephen Bradley corner which arrived at the back post with pace and accuracy, Sives did the rest with a crisp header and a joyous celebration to follow.
The game softened up a bit in the final moments of the first half as Rovers visibly relaxed and while Galway were unable to take any real advantage there was something inevitable about the less dramatic pace of the game as it entered the second period.
As the second half developed Galway began to find a foothold in the game. Sheppard jabbed his head at a ball on the edge of the six yard box and as Hooped defenders stood and watched, Manus managed to palm the ball away, Enda Steven’s eventually supplying the clearance.
And it was Sheppard’s work-rate that most threatened to upset Rover’s. His appetite for the lost cause was remarkable with the result that Galway fashioned a number of half chances from situations that offered little promise.
Michael O’Neill brought on Dessie Baker in an attempt to reignite his fading team and in typical fashion Baker added some immediate spice. Running onto a through ball from Danny Murphy the striker allowed the ball to run behind him, and while he lost his marker, he failed to fool ‘keeper Geraghty who gathered at the striker’s feet.
Sheppard’s one man crusade for Western dignity continued and he stung the palms of Alan Manus with a volleyed shot on the turn from outside the box after 66 minutes. But, fueled by Baker’s energy, it was Rovers who were regaining the initiative.
Thomas Stewart battled his way into the Galway box and drifted a chipped shot just inches wide of Geraghty’s left hand post and the runs of both Baker and Twigg provided the home side with a constant choice of moving target’s.
In truth, few clear cut chances were created as the clock ticked down although a looping effort from Twigg landed on the roof of the Galway net, much to the relief of a scrambling Daire Geraghty. The home side will take the three points to the table and look with optimism towards their remaining fixtures but perhaps a few purists will hesitate over their failure to exert their dominance in anything like the style that they managed last weekend.
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Manus; Danny Murphy, Craig Sives, Aidan Price, Enda Stevens; James Chambers (Stephen Rice, 53), Stephen Bradley (Robert Bayly, 78), Chris Turner, Thomas Stewart; Gary Twigg, Neale Fenn (Dessie Baker, 60).
?Subs not used: Pat Jennings, Pat Flynn.
Galway United: Daire Geraghty; Paul Sinnott, Jamie McKenzie, Philip Reilly (Tom King, 25), Rhys Meynell; Jason Molloy (Shane Keogh, 68), Seamus Conneely, Gary Curran, Derek O’Brien; Karl Sheppard (David Sheppard, 84), Stephen Walshe.
?Subs not used: Conor Winn, Ger Cheevers.
Bookings: Stephen Walshe (36), James McKenzie (54).
extratime.ie Man of the Match: Gary Twigg.
??Attendance: 3,500 (estimate).