Date: 7:45 p.m. July 17, 2009
Venue: Terryland Park
Sean Connor's troops have now won four of their last five league games to move strongly into fifth position, and with a squad that is looking stronger while others may have to offload, the Lilywhites should now be looking upwards towards snatching fourth place if this type of performance can be consistently replicated.
Granted, Galway were poor in the extreme (not a single shot on target was registered) and the Dundalk defence will hardly have an easier night's work, but the signs are encouraging for a side who kept their sixth clean sheet of the season at Terryland Park.
Galway welcomed Alan Murphy back after injury for his second start of the campaign, with Sean Kelly making his first appearance at Terryland Park since the 1st of May at centre half. Sean Connor unveiled a brand new left side to his team, with Michael McGowan at left back, Kevin McKinley on the left flank, while 'keeper Chris Bennion was dumped to the bench in place of another new signing, Peter Cherrie.
A cagey opening spell saw Dundalk dominate possession without really testing Barry Ryan, but the portents weren't good for the home side who were struggling to keep hold of the ball and too often opted for a high aimless pass to relieve the pressure. Alex Williams let fly with the first effort on goal in the 15th minute, but while it was dipping it never looked like testing the Clare man.
Williams was gifted the first real chance two minutes later, though, when Cherrie's wind-assisted long kick out deceived the United defence and the Scot was presented with a dropping ball in the area that he tried to volley past Ryan from 12 yards but, to the sizeable visiting fans' despair, a feeble effort ensued which Ryan easily gathered.
McKinley then picked up his first League of Ireland booking, before Murphy had Galway's first effort of the first half, turning sharply on the edge of the area on 22 minutes but his shot floated over the bar. Cherrie saw his first meaningful action a few minutes later, and failed to cover himself in glory when Sean Kelly's speculative cross hung in the air, waiting for a dominant keeper to arrive and collect, but Cherrie flapped and gave Vinny Faherty the chance to head goalwards, but the strikers nod went inches wide of the post.
Williams again threatened to nip in behind Breen but couldn't get sufficient purchase to clip past Ryan, but the away fans didn't have long to wait for the opener, as McKinley swung in Dundalk's second corner of the night on 28 minutes and Mickey Collins rose high above Sean Kelly at the back stick and powered a header back across goal, high into the net.
Thereafter, the half meandered towards the break, with Dundalk comfortably on top in the midfield sector as Collins and Chris Turner overpowered the lightweight pairing of John Russell and Cian McBrien in the centre. Tiarnan Mulvenna was also proving a lively threat down the right side for the Lilywhites. With Galway's most potent attackers, Jay O'Shea and Derek O'Brien, on the sidelines the home attacks were, in general, as toothless as a newborn child.
With Dundalk hungry and energetic all over the park, it was difficult to see a way back for Ian Foster's men, despite their previous week's heroics against St Pat's. They were lucky not to go further behind within the first minute of the second half when McGowan crossed from the left and the ball was not cleared properly, but Williams couldn't get a shot away in a tight space.
A home reshuffle was called for, and it arrived on 57 minutes when Paul Sinnott came on, with Sean Kelly pushed into midfield to provide some presence. It did not have the desired effect. A minute later, Dundalk were two to the good when Barry Ryan dealt well with two dangerous crosses from either side, but Galway, again, couldn't clear their lines and Ger Rowe teed up Williams on the edge of the area and he smartly shuffled to his right before arrowing a shot into the bottom corner for his second goal in three appearances.
The agony was far from over for the natives, though, as their side trudged onwards to the end of the contest, bereft of ideas or inspiration. The third Dundalk goal arrived on 71 minutes when McKinley again provided the assist from a right wing corner for Collins to glance past Ryan, sparking a mini-exodus among the still-lowly, despite the offer of free pizza, crowd of just over a thousand.
The final fifteen minutes wound down with Dundalk holding the home side at their leisure, and they could have gained further recompense for their efforts had Chris Turner availed of one of the numerous shooting chances afforded him in the closing stages. The final whistle ended the trauma for Ian Foster's men, but many more performances like this and the threat of relegation will solidify over the coming months.
Galway United: Barry Ryan; Seamus Conneely, Garry Breen, Sean Kelly, Iarfhlaith Davoren; John Russell, Cian McBrien, Dave Cooke, Mark O'Toole (Paul Sinnott, 58); Alan Murphy (Jason Molly, 70), Vinny Faherty.
Subs not used: Ger Hanley, Shane Fitzgerald, Simon Walsh.
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; Shaun Kelly, Thomas Heary, Simon Kelly, Michael McGowan; Tiarnan Mulvenna (Paul McAreavey, 78), Chris Turner, Michael Collins (Michael Coburn, 82), Kevin McKinley; Alex Williams, Ger Rowe .
Subs not used: Chris Bennion, Liam Burns, Darren Mansaram.
extratime.ie Man of the Match: Michael Collins - powerhouse display and two goals to boot, or head.
Referee: Declan Hanney.