Galway FC got the job done in style on Friday night as goals from Gary Shanahan, Ryan Manning and Alex Byrne meant that UCD will be forced to ply their trade in the First Division next season while Galway fans can look forward to Premier Division football once again returning to Eamon Deacy Park.
Galway started the game just as they left off last Monday night. The Western based side could have gone in front as early as the seventh minutes when Ryan Manning received the ball at the back post, only for Gareth Matthews to get a vital block on the end product to keep things in the balance.
While UCD began to improve just ten minutes later it was Hugh Douglas that was forced to slide into a challenge in order to deny Jake Keegan, who had broken with pace into the penalty area.
UCD could only muster up a header from centre back Ian Ryan, however Samir Belhout also went close not long after when he fired over from just outside the box after he stole a yard on his defender.
Galway then forced O’Donnell into action for the first time on the twenty fifth minute as Gary Shanahan blasted an effort low and hard from the right side of the box. However O’Donnell was equal to it as he got down well to deny the home side.
Just as Ben Connolly held up the additional time at end of the first half, Gary Shanahan snook in behind the UCD defence to poke the ball between the legs of the onrushing Conor O’Donnell leaving Aaron Callaghan to rethink his half time team talk.
The second half was only two minutes old when a snap shot from Ryan Manning almost saw Galway put the game beyond doubt. Just one minute later Aaron Callaghan opted for a bizarre substitution as he replaced striker Conor Cannon with midfielder Gary Burke.
With the hour mark fast approaching Robbie Benson swung in a corner from the right hand side that was met by the head of Belhout who steered his header only inches wide of Gleeson’s post.
By this stage Hugh Douglas had been pushed up front in a desperate attempt to get something back on the score board. By doing this it was clear that UCD were going to struggle on the counter attack as Ryan Manning had numerous chances to score a second Galway goal.
However it wasn’t till seventy one minutes had elapsed before Galway killed the game off as a contest with Ryan Manning being the man that sent the home fans into pandemonium. When the gap presented itself, Manning raced into it and smashed the ball beyond a helpless O’Donnell.
Gary Shanahan should have put The Tribesman further in front when he was presented with the simplest of one on one chances, but instead of coolly rounding O’Donnell he instead tried to dink the ball over the UCD keeper, with the end result being a wide ball.
To cap it all off with ten minutes still to play Alex Byrne scored a fantastic solo goal, which was without a doubt the winner of goal of the night. Byrne exchanged a pair of one twos with Paul Sinnott before smashing an unstoppable effort past Conor O’Donnell to heap further misery on top of a deflated UCD side.
Galway FC: Conor Gleeson, Colm Horgan, Paddy Barrett, Stephen Walsh, Marc Ludden; Paul Sinnott, Ryan Manning (Jason Molloy 87), Ryan Connolly, Gary Shanahan, Alex Byrne (Enda Curran 84); Jake Keegan (Vinny Faherty 84)
Subs Not Used: Ger Hanley, Martin Conneely, Padraic Cunningham, Robbie Egan
Yellow Cards: Alex Byrne (21)
Red Cards: None
UCD: Conor O’Donnell, Gareth Matthews, Ian Ryan, Hugh Douglas, Mark Langtry; Timmy Molloy, Robbie Benson, Robbie Creevy, Chris Mulhall (James Kavanagh 79); Samir Belhout, Conor Cannon (Gary Burke 48)
Subs Not Used: Niall Corbett, Daniel Tobin, Tomas Boyle, Gregory Sloggett, Colm Crowe
Yellow Cards: Robbie Benson (73)
Red Cards: None
Referee: Dave McKeon
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Gary Shanahan (Galway FC)