First League win. First clean sheet. First red card. First goal of the 2015 season for Enda Curran, and what a strike it was. There was, however, one hugely important first that overshadowed all others.
For the first time since October 22nd 2010, when a Jason Molloy brace sealed a narrow win over Bohemians, Galway United had picked up three points from a League fixture at their home venue. 18 home games followed in 2011, but yielded a scarcely credible two points from draws with Dundalk and UCD.
Attendances which had hovered around the 1,500 mark in the opening weeks that year fell away sharply to the point that when Drogheda United visited on October 8th, only 410 patrons were there to witness what was the Boynesiders last clash with United before last Friday night’s encounter.
The facts of that encounter are worth recounting, as an indicator of the horrors that had befallen those diehards who were still making the trek up the Dyke Road. Alan Murphy had given Galway the lead with less than half an hour to play but Dinny Corcoran, now of Sligo Rovers, quickly levelled to silence the faithful Maroon and White Army.
The visitors then had central defender Alan McNally sent off, but more woe was in store for Galway as a Sean Kelly own goal presented Drogheda with all three points. United were the only Premier Division side not to beat Drogheda that year.
This, I hope, gives some sort of context to the importance attached to Friday night’s win. While David O’Leary may have spoken beforehand of the squad’s wish of turning Deacy Park into an impregnable fortress, those who had witnessed the 2011 season still wondered legitimately would the club have what it takes to succeed at this level.
For one good season in the First Division is all well and good, but the true tests are now at hand. Curran’s goal had a touch of class to it, but we had seen such efforts before. Sam Oji’s red card with over an hour to play summoned dark thoughts to the front of people’s minds. Surely it was just a matter of time.
Galway dealt with the situation well until the half time whistle but Drogheda, with the brains trust of McDonnell, Kinsella, and Mahon would surely conjure a cunning plan to turn the tie on its head.
But, as Curran pointed out afterwards, this current crop of United players appear to have an abundance of character as well as technical ability. Bodies were sacrificed, headers were won, and Stephen Walsh’s defiance at the heart of the back four made the Galwegians a tough nut to crack.
Granted, Drogheda were missing two influential players, but their approach was so one-dimensional unless Seán Thornton was in possession that Galway were almost able to poach a second. The final five minutes were excruciating as Drogheda came close, but the urgings of what can be a hard crowd to get vocal helped get Galway over the line.
Three points in the bag will hopefully tempt some of those who drifted to the shadows after the Derry City game back for the visit of Longford Town next weekend. This side have now shown they are more than capable at this level, having defended a single goal lead for 90 odd minutes, something Galway United fans have not witnessed for some time.
Glass most definitely fuller this week.