Date: 7 p.m. July 25, 2010
Venue: Terryland Park
On the eve of Race Week in the west a United win would have been the perfect potion to get the party started and give Galway their first victory in a month. But midfielder Neale Fenn obviously didn’t read that version of the script as his 92nd minute goal gave Dundalk and sent United into despair.
It boded as a close battle – not so much of epic proportions, but pitting an over-worked Dundalk against a Galway team who has not won a game in a month and have lost three of their last four. Dundalk meanwhile, have faced the unenviable task of seven matches this month and were fresh off the back of a losing Europa League tie against Bulgarian side Levski Sofia on Thursday night.
Under 21s Irish international and former Shamrock Rovers defender Simon Madden was making his first appearance for the Lilywhites after returning from English club Darlington.
There were a few new faces in the maroon as well with the recent roster cuts and 19-year-old Galway junior Steven Walsh was handed his first start, lining up in front alongside Bobby Ryan. Normally a centre back, Walsh made a sterling debut as he gave Galway the early lead with a goal in the 16th minute, tapping a soft shot over Dundalk ‘keeper Peter Cherrie.
It was a lead that United managed to maintain for the remainder of the half and it would be a fair assessment to say the teams played out an evenly matched half. Captain Stephen Maher was among Dundalk’s best, creating plenty of opportunities and space in the midfield, while ever-present Galway winger Derek O’Brien was firing and had several opportunities himself, or setting up others. It was, however, an opening forty five minutes relatively devout of entertaining football.
The momentum began to pick up in the opening stages of the second term though. Wayne Hatswell and Garry Breen both had strong chances, the latter’s a particularly narrow escape for Galway as Breen sent a shot screaming past the right post. Ciaran McGuigan’s long range effort was just flicked over the bar by a full-stretch Barry Ryan and Maher had a shot on target which a diving Ryan managed to nullify.
Meanwhile Derek O’Brien forced a low save at the opposite end with a powerful strike from the left, while Walsh continued to make inroads at the front and was unlucky to be denied in the 64th minute by some scrambling Dundalk defence. Rhys Meynell’s cross also found Walsh at the far post and his header went high, but was heading in before Cherrie snatched it.
Dundalk were hungry and as fulltime drew nearer their efforts grew, led by striker Steven Lennon who twice went within millimetres of levelling the ledger. His first effort saw him grab a great double touch before firing it from close range at pace. Ryan was up to the task though and pushed it wide with a diving one handed save.
Lennon was in the middle of the action again when a scramble in the box almost resulted in an equaliser, but Galway were eventually rewarded a free out by referee Richie Winter.
It was heartbreak for United, but elation for the visitors deep into added time though as Fenn managed to head in a corner which took numerous deflections before finding the back of the net and handing Dundalk a share of the spoils.
Galway United: Barry Ryan; Conneely, Sinnott, McKenzie, Meynell, Curran, O’Donnell, Heary, O’Brien (Shaw 79), Walsh (Molloy 88), Ryan (King 71)
Dundalk FC: Cherrie, McGuigan, Breen, Hatswell, Madden, Kuduzovic, Miller, Maher, Gaynor (McDonnell 62), Lennon (Breen 89), Fenn
Referee: Richie Winter (Dublin)
Extratime man of the match: Steven Lennon