Date: 7:45 p.m. April 17, 2009
Venue: Terryland Park
Ref: Anthony Buttimer
The shine has slowly been rubbing off United’s surprisingly explosive start to the season and under the exposure of a slick Shams' performance, the cracks showed slightly more. Twigg claimed all three of the visitors’ goals, reaffirming his strike weapon status, his first two coming early in the first half, his third and deal-breaker in the 65th minute, moments after United had been showing signs that this game was far from dead.
Galway could not be accused of a bad performance, and had an equaliser come before Twigg’s third, it may have been a completely different result, but the Hoops out-witted and out-lasted the home side and were deserved of their three points.
United were fresh from fielding a far less experienced squad for the narrow Monday night EA Sports Cup win over Salthill Devon, returning to near-full strength – Seamus Conneely, Derek O’Brien, Shane Guthrie, Vinny Faherty and Barry Ryan all recalled after being given the night off against the A Championship team.
Manager Ian Foster had made two changes from their last Premier League outing against Drogheda last week, Alan Murphy making his first start for the season in place of Michael McGrath and Seamus Conneely returning at right back, while Shamrock Rovers fielded an unchanged team from their 1-1 draw with Cork City the week prior.
It was the near-perfect start for the visitors as Twigg was afforded far too much time and space to leap high and head home a Dessie Baker cross in just the fourth minute of action, giving their 250-strong vocal travelling contingent plenty of reason to make noise.
They were given even more to shout about just 12 minutes later through the combined efforts of Twigg and Baker again, the Hoops jumping out to a 2-0 lead as Baker skied one high from well outside the 18-yard box which looped down and Ryan could not contend with it properly as it deflected sideways off the right post, rolling straight to the feet of Twigg, who tapped it in.
Iarfhlaith Davoren powered in a long range shot at the opposite end for the home side a few minutes later, but the ball screamed past the right post as Galway tried desperately to get back into the contest after the Hoops’ fast-paced start. They had every opportunity over the next few minutes to get one back too as they attacked solidly for an extended period, but they could not find a way through.
Baker took a free kick on the edge of the box after being felled in a heavy Guthrie tackle, but pushed it to the left, before United returned fire, Derek O’Brien just mis-timing a header, pushing it wide from a short corner taken by Jay O’Shea, no further change to the score-line before Anthony Buttimer signalled half-time.
Striker Declan Edwards was introduced after the break to try and fire some life into Galway and the home side came out firing in a new 4-4-2 combination, Sean Kelly, O’Brien and O’Shea looking particularly dangerous. Their renewed efforts were rewarded 10 minutes in, a deserved goal going the way of Faherty. The build-up came from an O’Shea corner, Murphy keeping possession close in before turning to tap it wide to Faherty, who wound up and struck it on a good angle past Duggan.
The momentum stayed with them as O’Brien sprayed a shot across the goal face minutes later, but the Hoops found the perfect antidote to the comeback with a quick-fire third goal. It was jubilant scenes at the visitors’ end as Twigg captured his hat-trick, taking two attempts to slot it past Davoren from point-blank range after a corner, as defensive bodies lay across the line in a desperate bid to block him.
Although still 25 minutes from full-time, Twigg’s goal halted Galway in their tracks, any signs of a comeback now gone. The visitors were content to take stock with the line in their sights as the game dwindled to a close.
Galway United: Barry Ryan; Seamus Conneely, Shane Guthrie, Garry Breen, Iarfhlaith Davoren; Jay O'Shea, Sean Kelly, Cian McBrien(Declan Edwards, 46), Alan Murphy(David Cooke, 72), Derek O'Brien; Vinny Faherty.
Subs not used: Ger Hanley, Paul Sinnott, Michael McGrath.
Shamrock Rovers: Robert Duggan; Ollie Cahill, Sean Webb, Darragh Maguire, Corey Treacy; Sean O'Connor(Simon Madden, 77), Greg Cameron, Stephen Rice, Shane Robinson; Dessie Baker(Tadgh Purcell, 81), Gary Twigg(Padraig Amond, 87).
Subs not used: Barry Murphy, Aidan Price.
extratime.ie Man of the Match: Gary Twigg.
Referee: Anthony Buttimer.