Sligo Rovers got their first point of the 2016 SSE Airtricity League season on Monday night, but not before surviving Galway United’s second half onslaught that was fully felt by Michéal Schlingermann’s charmed goal posts at the Showgrounds.
New Sligo signing Liam Martin fired his side in front after a mere 49 seconds, however, the home side’s former frontman Ruairí Keating returned to haunt them as he equalised nine minutes into the second period.
Sligo began the game intensely and they went into the lead when the former Ballinamallard United man Martin’s 20-yard shot bobbled in over Conor Winn in the Galway goal.
The goal stemmed from a loose throw-in from Ryan Connolly which Martin picked up. His relatively tame effort seemed to surprise the tall Galway ‘keeper as it skipped over his histrionic dive and put the Tribesmen into arears.
Tommy Dunne’s men began applying the attacking football that has served them so well under his reign as the half progressed though. Gary Shanahan twice went close prior to ‘skipper Ryan Connolly’s 25-yard effort which was spectacularly tipped to safety by Schlingermann.
The Castlebar native again sprung to the rescue of the Bit O’ Red when he spread himself ‘Schmeichel like’ to block Vinny Faherty’s goal bound effort mid-way through the first half.
Jimmy Keohane threatened ten minutes before the break for the hosts, but his end product didn’t match his mazy footwork and he drove his shot over the target.
It was evident that Tommy Dunne’s men hadn’t deserved their half-time deficit and they re-entered the pitch in a bullish mood ahead of the re-start.
They got their equalising goal in the 54th minute as Keating became the second former Sligo Rovers striker to score against them at the Showgrounds this season, following Danny North’s opening day notch.
The home defence failed to clear Connolly’s delivery and Keating pounced to fire in his second goal for the Tribesmen from ten yards out.
Galway continued their imperious dominance for the remainder of the game with Connolly at the heart of everything that they did well, as Sligo’s stand-off midfield tactics allowed the visitors a ridiculous amount of time in possession to penetrate their rear-guard.
Galway substitute Enda Curran came very close to getting all three points for the visitors, but his effort was well blocked by a combination of the former Drogheda United man Schlingermann and defender Tim Clancy.
They continued to press as the half wore on and eleven minutes from full-time, Keating saw his header from Connolly’s delightful reverse cross crash off the bar with Schlingermann beaten.
Frustration was building for Galway as they had missed a catalogue of opportunities to win the first Connacht derby of the season, but in the end it was new Sligo attacker Phillip Roberts who lost his discipline.
His petulant kick-out saw referee Dave McKeon reach for his red card, which means Roberts will be unavailable to Dave Robertson and his team for some important games to come as they search for their first league win of the season.
Sligo Rovers: Michéal Schlingermann; Tobi Adebayo-Rowling, Gavin Peers, Tim Clancy, Regan Donelon; Phillip Roberts, John Russell (Mick Leahy 45), Jimmy Keohane, Jordon Richards, Liam Martin; Jaanai Gordon (Chris Lyons 73).
Subs not used: Michael Place, Ciaran Nugent, Raffaele Cretaro, Gary Boylan, Gary Armstrong.
Sent-off: Phillip Roberts (90)
Galway United: Conor Winn; Colm Horgan, Stephen Folan, Paul Sinnott, Stephen Walsh; Gary Shanahan, John Sullivan, Ryan Connolly, Kevin Devaney; Vinny Faherty (Enda Curran 67), Ruairí Keating (Pádraic Cunnningham 81).
Subs not used: Killian Cantwell, Eric Foley, Kevin Horgan (gk), Conor Melody, Cormac Rafferty.
Booked: Enda Curran (73).
Sent off: None
Referee: Dave McKeon
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Ryan Connolly (Galway United)