BOHEMIANS responded with the venom expected from a champion scorned as they inflicted Galway United with their first defeat in Terryland Park tonight.
The reigning champions were always expected to hit back hard after their shock 1-0 loss to Cork City on Friday and it was United who had to suffer the backlash and a 2-0 defeat. It ends a five-game unbeaten run to Galway and was purely a case of bigger, better, stronger from Bohs on a miserable midweek outing, where sitting inside watching Champions League quarter-finals had proven a far better option to many if the minimal crowd size was any reflection.
Striker Jason Byrne proved the lynchpin, collecting both Bohs goals in the first half, and looking dangerous on numerous occasions throughout this rough-and-tumble contest. A mid-pitch deluge greeted both sides to the Galway ground courtesy of a downpour prior to kick-off, although this had been reduced to just a light drizzle when Mark Gough got the game underway.
Bohs had travelled west without the services of suspended former Galway player Gary Deegan, while Neale Fenn also missed the clash due to a calf strain. The sole change to Galway United’s line-up saw Declan Edwards return to the substitute bench after a week of suspension.
The sides traded blows in the opening minutes, Byrne doing his best to deflect a cross in after just three minutes of action, but it afforded Barry Ryan a comfortable save, while Michael McGrath’s shot from just inside the top of the 18-yard box was also claimed at the opposite end by Brian Murphy.
It was never going to be a night for pretty football and Bohemians’ first goal was the product of a defensive mix-up by United’s centre halves, exacerbated by the sketchy surface underfoot. Brian Shelly had toed it through to Byrne, who looked to be well covered with both Shane Guthrie and Garry Breen on hand. But Breen fell during the chase, and Guthrie missed his clearance on an awkward second bounce, leaving Byrne with just the ‘keeper to beat, which he did with ease.
Galway could have responded just three minutes later, Derek O’Brien getting a great ball between Owen Heary and Jason McGuinness, only for Murphy to just get a finger to it and push it just wide. Just a minute later scores could again have been levelled when an O’Brien cross was deflected by a lunging Paul Keegan just wide of the left post.
Galway had initially responded well to going behind, but on the cusp of half-time Bohemians snagged a second, Byrne grabbing his second for the night, heading home a Keegan corner in the 44th minute. Only a late offside ruling prevented Bohs from adding to their tally in the opening stanzas of the second half, Byrne curling one past the right post just as the linesman’s flag went up nine minutes after the break.
Galway made two early substitutions, last week’s goal-scorer Seamus Conneely and midfielder Cian McBrien bought off in favour of David Cooke and Declan Edwards as the home side reverted to a 4-4-2 format. Bohs continued to make all the in-roads though; Killian Brennan’s shot only just tipped over the bar by the desperate flailing right arm of Ryan as they went on the hunt for a third goal.
Vinny Faherty had an opportunity for the home side moments later after being put through, however could not shake off the last man to get a shot away. It was steadying into an even contest, though, as Bohs took stock and Galway attempted to press. Byrne dribbled a soft chance to the feet of Ryan with 10 minutes remaining, Graham Carey also firing in a shot which Ryan gathered.
A late corner provided the visitors with one last chance, although yielded nothing as it was deflected well wide and Bohs would have been well content with the final 2-0 result on an unpleasant night for soccer.
Galway United: Barry Ryan; Seamus Conneely (Dave Cooke 59), Garry Breen, Shane Guthrie, Iarfhlaith Davoren; Jay O'Shea, Cian McBrien (Declan Edwards 63), Sean Kelly, Michael McGrath, Derek O'Brien; Vinny Faherty (Alan Murphy 83).
Subs not used: Ger Hanley (gk), Paul Sinnott.
Bohemians: Brian Murphy; Mark Rossiter, Owen Heary, Jason McGuinness, Brian Shelley; Graham Carey (Sean Byrne 85), Paul Keegan, Glen Cronin, Killian Brennan; Jason Byrne, Glen Crowe (Joseph Ndo 75).
Subs not used: Matt Gregg (gk), Ken Oman, Conor Powell.
Referee: Mark Gough.
extratime.ie Man of the Match: Jason Byrne (Bohemians).