Date: 7:35 p.m. Oct. 30, 2009
Venue: Tallaght Stadium
The Rovers faithful stayed until long after the final whistle in order to thank the players for their efforts throughout the year but they could not hide their disappointed as a season that promised so much has finished with no reward. Rovers, as has been their Achilles heel all year, were lacking a killer pass to open up the Galway defence and despite a frantic end the closest they came to a goal was when Stephen Rice hit the post from a tight angle in injury time.
Rovers started brightly, dominating possession and territory. Galway attempted to pack midfield but Rovers combated this with Stephen Bradley and Sean O’Connor hugging the touch lines and stretching play which created space for Shane Robinson and Rice to pull the strings in the middle.
Galway had a major let off after only eight minutes when Dessie Baker should have scored with only the keeper to beat. Bradley, in acres of space down the right found Rice who squared it to Baker who was no more than six yards out but his tame shot was straight at Bobby Ryan.
After 27 minutes Sean O’Connor, who had the beaten of his man all night, cut inside and shot low, Ryan’s parry was cleared only to Bradley. His flicked cross saw Gary Twigg head into the keepers arms. It appeared only a matter of time before Rovers would take the lead but Galway came more into the game with Sean Kelly working tirelessly in midfield but they failed to have a shot at goal in the first half.
Just as it appeared that Galway would hold out till half time Gary Twigg scored his 24th goal of the season. Sullivan played it wide to Bradley and his perfect cross was met by Twigg, whose flicked header from close range went into the far corner. Twigg was to the fore once again moments later when he beat Gary Breen only to be brought down, the defender deservedly seeing yellow. Baker could not repeat his superb strike from last week and his free kick was straight at Ryan.
The second half saw Rovers happy to play deeper and this appeared fine as Galway were causing their defence no threat. But out of nothing Galway equalised with an excellent individual goal from Aaron Greene. He showed great skill to beat Kavanagh and then Cahill before cutting inside Price and finishing low to beat Alan Mannus at his near post. Although it was Galway’s first shot on target it would be harsh to say they didn’t deserve it when it was such a good goal.
Paddy Kavanagh almost regained the lead immediately for Rovers, his brilliant chest control saw him through on goal but from a wide angle he decided to shoot when Twigg and Graham Barrett were better placed. Rovers then began to throw everything at Galway, bringing on Padraig Amond who came close to scoring with a near post flick, Ryan saving again.
As the home side piled forward Galway were reduced to ten men when Gary Breen brought down Robinson and saw yellow for the second time. It was cynical challenge that stopped a promising break and there were no complaints from his teammates as Breen walked down the tunnel. Despite this numerical advantage Rovers could not force a win as their increasingly frantic efforts came to nothing.
It’s a pity that the title race ends on such an anti climax but the league table never lies and the truth is that Rovers fell just short in terms of quality. A flaw in the side that was exposed both tonight and in last week’s crucial loss to Cork is their defences’ weakness against genuine pace. Galway fought till the end and were understandably delighted with a point that sees them knowing a victory over Cork City in Terryland park next week will see them stay in the Premier Division for another year.
Shamrock Rovers; (4-4-2) Mannus; Sullivan, Sives, Price, Cahill; Bradley, Robinson©, Rice, O’Connor (Kavanagh ‘61); Baker (Barrett ’61), Twigg (Amond ’77).
Subs not used; Murphy (gk), Chisholm.
Galway United; (4-5-1) Ryan; Conneely, Guthrie ©, Breen, Sinnott; Cooke, McBrien (Murphy ’57), O’Brien (Molloy ’90), Kelly, Faherty; Greene.
Subs not used; Fitzgerald, Sangi, Hanley.
Sent off; Breen.
Extratime.ie man of the match: Although Bradley and Robinson impressed throughout Barry Ryan deserves the award for keeping his side in the game when Rovers were laying siege to his goal.